3 Apps that make us scroll endlessly, and how it’s making everyone unproductive!
Well technically, they don’t make you scroll endlessly, but still, they make you do it for more than 5 minutes to say the least.
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According to the research done by the Oxford Mail in 2021, the most used app during lockdown was TikTok (12 hours 12 minutes) the video sharing app. Next in line was YouTube with 12 hours and 4 minutes, and finally Facebook with 11 hours and 59 minutes. These measurements were taken on the basis of the usage of these apps per week by the average person.
Fundamentally, people spent these many hours of their week on social media because the world has become immensely “screenized”, if there is a word like that 😁… I meant to say that we are depending more on devices with screens as they are helping us in being more productive. But there is a caveat to this, as with all the things made by man even our smart-devices have their own bad and good aspects. Consequently, it is due to those bad aspects that we are becoming more unproductive rather than becoming productive
When we come to the context of social media apps, the bad aspects include unnecessary advertisements, attention-seeking and intimidating photos and messages, etc.
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Therefore we must be prudent and judicious when spending our time in social media apps. A person should know the difference between ‘spending precious time on social media without gaining new useful insights’, and ‘spending the same amount of time on social media while gaining new useful info’.
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You see when we use a app, say for instance, ‘Instagram’. The type of content we search or look for in the app regulates the type of content shown to us by the algorithm in the ‘explore’ page. As the algorithm is not a human being, it has no feeling per se. Ergo, it shows you exactly the things that you like, and everyone knows that all the things he or she may like might not be always good for them. Say for instance, if you like to watch stuff on po** or any other useless things in these sites, then the algorithm which is programmed to get you to watch as much content as possible, will start to recommend more and more related contents like that 😬. Now if you have experience of a similar situation, then you must know how hard it is to abandon it.
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How TikTok and Instagram keeps you scroll’in: TikTok (Douyin in China) is a video-focused social networking service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. It only hosts a variety of short-form user videos, from genres like pranks, tricks, dance, and entertainment with durations from 15 seconds to three minutes. The algorithm of TikTok is augmented to find your likings whether they be good for you or not.
- Lower attention span - In a study conducted in 2016, the average human attention span was 8 seconds, which was 4 seconds less than in 2000. This means that you have less attention to individual details than a goldfish does! (it has a 9 second attention span.) One reason for the drastic decline was the increased consumption of information.
- Brain reward system - As Niccolo Machiavelli infamously mentioned in his book, The Prince, “the human nature is based on self-interest and human desires are insatiable”, we can now certainly say that he was trying to explain the ‘unlimited needs of human beings’. The basis of this situation is nothing but the insatiable thirst of the brain reward system. Our brain feels rewarded when an action or behaviour gives us pleasure, and information is also one such commodity that brings pleasure.
Most of you might have heard of the chemical called ‘Dopamine’, if not, it is a neurotransmitter that triggers the internal reward system of the brain. The brain releases more of the same stuff when you, say for instance, take drugs, alcohol, smoke, etc. So, now I hope you understand that social media addiction is serious business…
- How TikTok and Instagram, and any other similar apps exploit the above mentioned conditions- 1. According to a professor at Max Planck Institute for Human Development, “Content is increasing in volume, which exhausts our attention and our urge for newness increases”.
This is the reason why we collectively switch between topics more regularly on TikTok and Instagram. Moreover, these platforms have created a certain time-frame or format for their content, that they precisely fit in with our attention span and does not exhaust it. For example on TikTok you can scroll through thousands of 15-30 second long videos easily.
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2. The second way in which these platforms keep you scrolling, is through taking advantage of the internal reward system of your brain. ‘Dopamine’ creates a feedback loop that pushes you to redo actions that gave you pleasure. So when a user doesn’t like a video or a photo that he/she is watching, they will constantly scroll to achieve the desired reward.
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So in the end you just have to realize these facts when you find yourself scrolling through ‘TikTok’ or ‘Insta’… Just remember this that, “You are the key to your success, what you decide to do will decide your future. So I hope you use this ‘realization’ to be free from social media addiction.”
I’ll be back with more, farewell for now… 👍