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The Curse of social media

Is social media a useful tool or a danger to both our society and our human mind?   

The answer to this question is not so trivial. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be dealing with this topic so extensively. Depending on the different personality type and the usage time, social media can be both a danger and an opportunity. 

“The dose makes the mixture, and the mixture makes the poison.” 

In an interview with the psychologist Martin Daume, we spoke about the dangers that can lurk in an unfavorably administered dose. The same dose can have quite different effects, depending on the personality type. However, even without considering these different personality types, we can say that an average social media use of three hours per day, can have dangerous consequences for most people (Oberlo, 2021). Considering that the majority of people work, study, or go to school for approximately eight hours a day and sleep for another eight hours, that means there are only eight more hours left. If three hours of that remaining time are spent in a bubble, the content of that bubble can have a greater impact than you might realize. 

But what exactly makes this bubble so dangerous? 

There are some major danger zones, but they all stem from the same mechanisms of action. If you understand these mechanisms, you can better understand the various problematic aspects.   

We strive for a wide variety of relationship needs, including attention, recognition, and solidarity. We want to satisfy these needs both in real life and during our digital interaction. The problem with digital interaction is that it never happens simultaneous, but always staggered. Thus, we either feed interaction into the bubble unilaterally or we are played on by the bubble unilaterally. This never corresponds to a natural interaction, where we always receive immediate feedback, be it verbal or non-verbal. Digital interaction can therefore never authentically satisfy such relationship needs.   

Since we need such authentic satisfaction, we react. Either we consciously realize that we will not achieve authentic satisfaction digitally and seek it in the real world. Or we admit defeat and feel bad about not achieving the wished satisfaction. Or we try to compensate. In the latter two reactions, unfavorable schemas are activated in our brain; we might call them cognitive auxiliary constructs. In this case, constructs that regulate how we deal with the inauthentic satisfaction of our needs.  

On the one hand, these schemas – consciously or unconsciously – can make us believe that we are the reason for the unsatisfaction. This, in turn, can very quickly end in isolation and depression. On the other hand, these schemas can also trigger compensatory mechanisms. Through such compensatory mechanisms, or also called normative schemas, we then try to make others react exactly the way we want them to react. In other words, if we don’t get the signals and reactions we want from others, we manipulate. In social media language, that would mean, for example, we edit our face and put some filters on it so that others find us beautiful and like our post. Depending on how good our normative schemas are, we can also be quite successful and actually get more likes by editing the post. However, the big problem is that it doesn’t satisfy us in an authentic way. After all, we know that we don’t actually look that perfect and that we also have wrinkles and imperfections.  

We realize that social media is a distorted, not really realistic world. Nevertheless, such schematic activations ensure every moment anew that we act exactly as we shouldn’t.    

“That’s the curse of social media!”