The Power Of The Like Button

Published in Culture, Life & Style on Mar 21, 2018 by Tim Marner™

The Power of The Like Button

Nowadays its hard to go anywhere without someone talking about the latest thing they’ve seen on Facebook or Instagram. Kids are growing up in a world where social media has existed forever, it’s a part of their lives and instant gratification is only an upload or a share away.

Social Media has become a massive part of society today and whilst it’s a great business tool and a great thing being able to talk to someone on the other side of the planet in just a moment there is also a dark and sinister side to social media.

Instant Gratification

But it’s that instant gratification we talked about earlier which keeps us coming back for more. Dopamine, discovered in 1957, is one of 20 or so major neurotransmitters, a fleet of chemicals that, like bicycle couriers weaving through traffic, carry urgent messages between neurons, nerves and other cells in the body. Everytime you get a “Like” you get a dopamine hit. Dopamine inspires us to take actions to meet our needs and desires – anything from turning up the heating to satisfying a craving to spin a roulette wheel – by anticipating how we will feel after they’re met. 

It’s not Facebook people are addicted to, it’s Dopamine. Addiction is often linked to mental health problems and seemingly the two go hand in hand. If you have an addiction problem it may have started as a way to cope with feelings that you felt unable to deal with in any other way. Why spend all that time mastering a skill to get gratification, when you can post a picture online and get it instantly?

The Kid In School

This effects everyone on social media, some more than others. But with his who have grown up knowing only social media it appears to have had a bigger effect. Go back in time to when you were a kid, guaranteed there are two stereotypes which would have been in your class. The first is some poor sod who was a bit different, the second is the popular kid. 

It’s those kids who are the best relatable example to use. The kid who’s popular is the person searching for that dopamine hit, posting up online and fishing for likes. But what happens to that person when the likes dry up? Psychologically they feel depressed, secluded and anxious. The same happens to that kid who’s a bit different and goes online to find friends and can’t get any, all the while seeing the post of a popular person racking up likes.

Xanax, Sad Rap & Modern Culture

Now this is nothing new, these sorts of studies and opinions have been coming out for years. Recently what we have seen is the effect of this on the generation which has grown up with social media. Kids that are self-medicating to deal with anxiety problems, the emergence of Xanax Culture and Sad Rap represents a youth culture which isn’t having fun anymore. Whilst drugs within sub-genres of the music industry has always been a thing, it's hard to imagine dance music classic Strings of Life ever getting the kind of reception that artists like Lil Xan & Lil Peep are getting, with Lil Peep dying last year due to a drugs overdose. Looking at people like Lil Xan who at the age of 21 has a music video with over 147,383,631 views, we’re not looking at a small subculture, we’re talking mainstream influences. It’s a vicious circle though because for every Lil Xan there are imitators who want to be like him, taking to social and showing off the aesthetic. 

We've put a video below to highlight the issues with the culture in the video below.

Socially Responsible?

The real question is where does it stop? 

Should Facebook and Instagram be looking at these issues and taking responsibility? 

Personally we don't blame social problems or artists, ultimately they're just a reflection of their environment around them. It's interesting yet saddening to see social problems coming from a source like Facebook and Instagram which was intended to bring people together. Currently it's not just that kids are online and getting mental health problems, kids are also easily able to buy drugs online. 

Perhaps looking at the bigger picture it's a sign of the bigger things to come, and the ever increasing meshing of digital social media into the fabrics of society.

Someone needs to take accountable.

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