How to take control of a social network

How to live life by its own rules, without being distracted by the manipulation of other people? To do this, you need to know how your mind works. " Know yourself, " the ancients called. Unfortunately, often we do it badly .

Conversely, others know us better and better. Our intelligence, sexual preferences, and a lot of other things can be calculated on the basis of likes on Facebook. Machines using data collected from our digital tracks can better describe our personality than our friends and family. Soon, artificial intelligence will know even more based on data from social networks. The problem of the XXI century will be the question - how to live when strangers know about us better than we do.

How free are we today? There are entire industries dedicated to capturing and selling our attention - and the best bait are social networks. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are attracting us ever closer to campfire, which is our common humanity. But you have to pay for everything, both from a personal and political point of view. Users will have to decide whether the benefits of these sites exceed their value.

And the decision must be taken freely. But can this be done if social networking sites may be addictive? Also, the decision must be informed. But can it be so, if we do not even know what happens behind the scenes?

Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, recently discussed the reflection process that led to the creation of this social network. He described it as thoughts.
About how to use as much as possible of your time and conscious attention.

To do this, the user must issue
A bit of dopamine , but dosed when someone likes or leaves a comment under a photo or post. It makes you invest more.

Then Parker continued:
This is exactly what a hacker would have come up with, like me, as this is the exploitation of the vulnerability of human psychology. We, the inventors - I, Mark [Zuckerberg], understood this consciously. And still go for it.

Human needs generate human vulnerabilities

So what are these vulnerabilities? People have a basic need to belong to something and a basic thirst for social status . As a result, our brain regards information about us as a reward. When our behavior is rewarded by such things as food or money, the brain's “ evaluative system ” is activated. A rather large part of it is also activated when we come across information related to ourselves. Therefore, such information is assigned a large weight. Therefore, when someone pronounces your name, even at the other end of a noisy room, it is automatically highlighted by your mind .

Especially important is the information related to your reputation and social status. We are designed to be sensitive to her. We begin to understand social dominance at the age of 15 months .

Social networking sites attract us because they include information related to us, our social status and reputation. The more your need to belong to something and be popular, the more your brain reward centers respond to improving your reputation , and the harder it is to resist the sirens singing sites.

Are social networks addictive?

Gambling is addictive, because you do not know how many bets you have to make before winning. B.F. Skinner [American psychologist, inventor, behaviorist / approx. transl.] discovered this in his laboratory, studying pigeons in the 1950s. If pigeons were given food every time after pressing a button, they would press on it often. But if they were given food not every time they pressed the button, they didn’t just press it more often - they did it with an insane and manic frequency.

It can be said that Skinner's pigeon lab was recreated at Harvard in 2004, with two changes. She was called Facebook, and did not use pigeons.

By checking Facebook, you cannot predict whether someone has left you information related to you. Social networking sites are slot machines that give you gold related information. That is why billions of people are pulling their arms. Can they be addictive?

Facebook, as they say, first periodically advertised itself as the " addictive habit of college ." Today, some researchers claim that getting used to Facebook " has become a reality ." However, it is not yet a recognized psychiatric disease, and there are certain problems with this concept.

People on Facebook do different things, from games to social networks. In this regard, the term “attachment to Facebook” lacks specifics . Also, since Facebook is just one of many network sites, the term “ social network attachment ” would be better suited.

And yet, even the term “attachment” is not without problems. Harmful habits are usually considered chronic disorders leading to life problems. At the same time, a five-year study showed that many examples of immoderate behavior that were considered destructive — an excessive passion for sex, shopping, and video games — are rather temporary phenomena. Moreover, overuse of social networks does not necessarily bring problems to everyone. Branding an excessive addiction to an “addiction” activity can lead to excessive pathologization of everyday behavior . It's all about context.

Nevertheless, it has been convincingly shown that overuse of social networks leads to symptoms associated with addictions. This includes spending almost all of your free time on these sites, using them to fine-tune your mood, the need to constantly increase their use to achieve the same emotional effect, and breaking down to reduce their use, which often causes you to return to them. According to the best available estimates, 5% of adults show high-grade addiction symptoms.

How to return control

How to use the benefits of social networks, avoiding the risk of being absorbed by them? Companies can change the look and feel of their sites to reduce the risk of habituation. They may provide an opportunity to abandon certain addictive functions and simplify the possibilities for self-tuning their use. However, some argue that asking tech companies to "be worse at what they do is pretty silly." Therefore, state restrictions may be necessary in this connection, perhaps similar to those that apply to the tobacco industry .

Users may also think about whether some of their personal reasons make them vulnerable. Among the factors that can predict the propensity to pernicious attachments, there is a tendency to negative emotions , the inability to cope with everyday problems , the need for self-promotion , loneliness and the fear of others ignoring . These factors do not apply to all people.

Finally, users can arm themselves. Now you can limit the use of such sites, using applications like Freedom , Moment and StayFocusd . Most Facebook users voluntarily take breaks from using the site , although this can be a difficult ordeal .

“I am the master of my destiny, I am the captain of my soul,” say the famous lines from the poem “The Unsubdued ”. Unfortunately, future generations may not understand them.


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