5 Ways Social Media Tricks You Into Using Social Media

We all like to think that we are in control of our lives. It's discomforting to think that some of the decisions we make are not our own, and almost everyone can agree that having the freedom to make choices is an important value. But like all living creatures, we are often slaves to our own biology. Sometimes you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of a movie, sometimes you eat questionable Mexican food at 2 AM because no other places are open and you're hungry, and sometimes you check your Facebook account without really thinking about it. Does that last one seem different than the others? It shouldn't. According to Dr. Susan Weinschenk of Psychology Today, social media provides us with instant gratification in the form of dopamine and opioid. Basically, when you receive a text, notification, RT, or an excessive amount of notes on Tumblr, your brain shoots off and tells you to look for more of that sweet anonymous and distanced human interaction. Our addiction to the byproducts of social networking may be left unsatisfied (you check your Facebook and find no messages nor notifications), but that only makes the desire to check again larger. This is because, as Dr. Weinschenk says, "brain scan research shows that the brain has more activity when people are ANTICIPATING a reward than getting one." And, as Cheap Trick says, "I want you to want me, and that's good enough because my dopamine response to the anticipation of you needing me is greater than if you were to actually need me." If you think that giant companies like Facebook are unaware of these studies, you would be wrong (and a little dumb). In fact, they tailor their site experiences towards the needs of their users, namely getting a nice dopamine high off of their supply. This list is comprised of five (fairly recent) tools that websites use in order to make you want to use their site again and again. These features all seem to be practical, but their existence doesn't actually enhance the experience that social media provides. Rather, it makes your decision to use their product again a foregone conclusion. Some of these things may seem obvious, but it seems helpful to point out just a few of the seemingly millions of features tech giants use to strip us of our autonomy. And if you like the article, share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, and/or GooglePlus.

Bryan Hickman is a WhatCulture contributor residing in Vancouver, British Columbia. Bryan's passions include film, television, basketball, and writing about himself in the third person.