According to Vice, addiction to social media is not an accident.
They got to that conclusion by analyzing several social media websites. Nostalgically looking back into 2009 (I was in 7th grade) they started with Facebook and its implementation of the like button feature.
“The main intention I had was to make positivity the path of least resistance,” Justin Rosenstein, one of the four Facebook designers behind the button, said to Vice. “And I think it succeeded in its goals, but it also created large unintended negative side effects. In a way, it was too successful.”
According to Facebook, clicking like below a post on Facebook is an easy way to let people know that you enjoy it without leaving a comment.
As a Facebook user, I’ve experienced the unintended negative side effects. For example, if a user isn’t generating as many likes as there Facebook friends are it could lead to jealousy, and/or low self-esteem. The thought of “Why am I being left out” enters their mind.
Vice went on to explain another unintended negative side effect, and that is the craving for validation on social media in the form of likes.
While apart of social media engagement, something I learned in Dr. Strahler’s Social Media course at Slippery Rock University, the craved social media validation has consumed the user’s time, constantly refreshing their accounts. The websites don’t care, because the increased eyeballs means increased revenue in the form of advertising dollars.
Dubbed ‘the attention economy’, the more attention social media websites can obtain the more effective and expensive their advertising becomes.
“And, I don’t think social media companies are trying to make ‘addictive’ platforms, per se,” Adam Alter, author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked said to Vice. “But, since they’re all competing for our time and attention, they’ve always been focused on making the most engaging experience possible.”
After Facebook launched their like button, YouTube implemented their version in 2010 while Twitter added one in 2015. But, Instagram, launched in 2010, was designed with a like feature.
In the long run, I hope people realize social media is “fake”, something I’ve been saying for years. Essentially, what’s posted on social media can not be perceived as what would be said in real life, though they’re are exceptions.
For example, social media users only post things that highlight themselves in a positive light, never showing vulnerability. Additionally, users are more bold, posting content or commenting on things they more than likely wouldn’t say out loud in person, or to someone’s face, according to my social media observations.
To round things out, there’s no real life benefit to social media. For example, a user can post a tweet on Twitter that obtains five hundred retweets, and a thousand likes. But, if you screen capture the post, and indicate everyone you proceed to encounter the rest of your day in real life, you won’t receive any validation.
Tying it all together, social media validation is just that, validation on social media, and not in real life.
“Don’t get yo self esteem on the Internet get your $,” Rapper Dom Kennedy, said on Twitter.
Don’t get me wrong, you can monetize social media, as discussed in a previous article. But, don’t expect social media validation to transfer into real life validation, one must earn the respective validations.