No, that’s not the amount Star Wars raked in opening weekend, or the number of cheeseburgers served by McDonalds in a day. That’s the number of Active Facebook users currently. Along with 300 Million Instagram users, and 284 Million Twitter users. (thanks, Google). We’re engulfed with it.
At first, it was a fun, novel, convenient way to keep in touch with family and friends. It has turned into much more than that. It is becoming a part of people’s identity, in a way that falls wildly near the edge of addiction. Not only does it impact our culture, media, consumerism, and society greatly; it also impacts our brain.
“Likes” or gaining followers can activate the brain’s reward center, which causes “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine, to be released. Eventually, a dependent pattern can be established of needing more and more “stimulation” via likes and followers to gain the same effects and amounts of the dopamine, just like drug, alcohol, and sex addiction.
Not only do we get “addicted” to getting more likes and followers, but also to the “seeking” behavior prior to anything getting posted, such as picking out our clothes, doing our hair, getting ready, taking photos, choosing photos, editing them, etc.
After we get the likes, we get some validation, and the seeking is usually paused… temporarily. If you get to a point where the seeking doesn’t pause at all, then you may start along the vicious, endless, cycle even quicker.
Much like most of online, including internet dating, is gallantly based on aesthetics; mainly photos, what you look like, what you do, what you wear, your hair, your face, your body, where you are, what you own, etc. It is not really based on introspection, and WHO we truly are. Which is ultimately killing our connection, intimacy, our ability to think independently, our self esteem, as well as our sense of self, but not just that; our interest in our sense of self.
Since we are such a physical and visual species, it only seems natural that our media platforms would turn highly aesthetic, and therefore, sexualized and objectified. And it is only getting more so. Women AND Men are both posting selfies, body shots, videos; even big name companies use it in their commercials, sales, and marketing. We are a consumer society, with fear driving much of the consumption. The fear of missing out, not being good enough, attractive enough, tall enough, stylish enough, wealthy enough, funny enough; comparing ourselves and our lives to others, and allowing the enigma of all of this to consume our identity as well.
Sex sells. It always will.
As I look at my friends’ 632nd like on her recent instagram photo, and I look at my measly 12 likes (27 on my best days), I get embarrassingly sad. Sometimes I think, if I post some sexy pictures of my body, maybe I’ll get more followers, and therefore, more likes…
But then I REALLY think about it. That’s not what I want. I don’t want that kind of attention. I don’t want those “kind” of likes or followers.
And if even me, a 26 year old psychotherapist and mental health advocate has those flippant thoughts every now and then.. what kinds of weighty thoughts do you think our teenagers are having on the daily?
Happiness based on aesthetics will suffocate your potential here on earth. -Essena O’Neill
Now I would love to hear from you.
What do you think of how social media impacts us and our peers? What about our youth? What message(s) do you think selfies and other sexualized photos deliver? Do you ever find yourself getting “addicted” or caught up in how many likes and followers you have? How do you stay grounded? What kind of example do you want to set with social media platforms? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you in advance for reading, commenting and sharing with love, compassion and kindness. You help make our cozy corner of the world wide web an awesome place!
Sending love and healing,