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  • Vinay Nair

Social Media is putting human Psychology on dopamine

When the century rolled into the 21st one, if you told anyone that you could watch videos on a digital platform while chatting with your friends on the same platform from a device no bigger than your palm, you would probably be asked to write the next big science fiction novel.

But look where we are now, closer to a Black Mirror episode than ever before, our lives revolving totally around the wireless gadget in all of our pockets.

The first prescription!

You might remember way back in 2007 when Steve Jobs announced the first iPhone. The first of its kind with a 3.5-inch screen, a 2-megapixel camera and a storage capacity of about 16GB. Sounds ancient, right?

But it was actually the first time such a multi-touch interface was launched and one might argue that apart from being a landmark event in the history of smartphones, it was also crucial to kind of bridge the human-technology gap. Though the concept of applications being run on the phone would come later with the next edition, this first model set the leap forward for the developers community to innovate.

A big screen, which you could touch to give commands, instead of pressing buttons or using a stylus revolutionised the very way phones were to be made in the days and years to come.

Releasing the first App store in 2008 with the launch of iPhone 3G event, about 500 apps were introduced towards the next big revolution for mobile devices. This paved the way for the phones to be treated as a personal and private platform. Not only could one surf the internet at the blink of an eye, but they could now also download applications, upgraded and designed specifically for a phone.

Today, the App Store hosts more than 2 million apps, with more being added on a regular basis. Google Play and App Store have now become the marketplace from which most common and globally well-used apps like News, Maps, and others such native or essential applications operate and update themselves.

Addiction to notifications!

“And don't forget to like, share and subscribe for more content.”

This must be a sentence you have heard countless times if you have a smartphone and a working internet connection in today's day and age

With the use of smartphones, another thing that flourished was social media. We started our social media journey with Myspace and Orkut and have since moved to the greener pastures of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. We have the latest sensation called TikTok and have reliable Tumblr and Pinterest too.

One thing that all of these apps have instilled in us is undoubtedly our complicated relationship with Notifications. Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an extremely urgent work, which comes undone because you heard one ding of notification and then spiralled into mindless scrolling for a while?

Yes! By now, we’ve all been there at some point or the other.

While getting to know what someone has to say to what someone is doing the minute they tell the world about it, might have been unthinkable in the era of letters and telegrams, of trunk calls and STDs,

It surely has made us less patient, shortening our attention span for instant gratification.

I have heard stories from my grandfather about how when doing his research, most of his days would be spent at the library, pouring over tomes and copying relevant information by hand.

Now? Not only do we not have to copy information by hand anymore, we hardly have reason to visit a library! The smartphone, this availability of information at our fingertips, the various apps that we use to smoothen this process out have sure helped us, made information more accessible, more fun and faster too, but at what cost? I have had friends complain about how they used to finish hefty novels in a week, but cannot go through three consecutive pages now, without having this urge to check their Snapchat notifications, or how many like their new ‘Reel’ garnered.

You must be familiar with,

Creators like NASDaily giving us short minute long travelogues and information tidbits
Instagram Reels, which may be called as a reincarnation of Vines or TikTok
News platform giving you news updates in 60 words or less, InShorts
Tweets, which cannot exceed more than 280 characters

This excessive dependence on social media, and this increased visibility of one’s personal life, coupled with the lifestyle and work culture of today seems to have shortened our attention spans and all our digital interactions seem to reflect that.

Byte-sized is the new normal!


Social media or the various ‘trends’ that we see there are basically a reflection of what we do all day, how we interact with the ‘digital’ and is also a projection of what ideally we want. All these developments that are occurring in this field, all so rapidly are not occurring because humanity is being held under duress to comply with these, but rather because we want these. We want to be able to consume short and light content at lightning speed, because it makes us feel less guilty than watching a 3-hour movie, we want the google search to give correct answers because the collateral of fast news is also fake news.

Whether the impact of this is good or bad, is yet to be ascertained but one thing is for sure, we are running this rat race of life and our social media habits are just a projection of it, however unlikely it sounds!




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