The Rise of Social Media: What Makes Social Media so Addictive?

The L.A. Times recently reported a study conducted by Harvard University:

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same sensation of pleasure in the brain that we get from eating food, getting money or having sex. It’s all a matter of degrees of course, (talking about yourself isn’t quite as pleasurable as sex for most of us), but the science makes it clear that our brain considers self-disclosure to be a rewarding experience. (Netburn)

This might explain why social media is so important in today’s society. If sharing about one’s life is a pleasurable experience then it is safe to assume that it is somewhat addicting. Sharing intimate details about the going ons of one’s life is “rewarding”. This is probably why society continues to feed into social media. There is a good feeling associated with status updates and having even the slightest chance of making a connection through social media. Many people long for connection and the opportunity to disclose information about their lives to an attentive audience, and social media provides an outlet for that. The study also found that  “… test subjects would turn down money (just a few cents) to talk about someone else, in order to enjoy the more pleasurable sensation of talking about themselves.” (Netburn). People clearly like talking about themselves and the internet, with the potential for millions to view their statuses, provides the most likely opportunity. With everyone sharing it’s hard to resist falling into the trap. From this study it’s easy to guess why social media has reached a level of unprecedented popularity in today’s day and age.


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