I still remember the starry-eyed, glazed look of my own highly rational 16 year old daughter after she had spent time with her first boyfriend. She looked dazed. Almost “drunk” with bliss. As a parent, I was shocked. According to research, the “feel good” hormones that teenagers experience when in love are almost as potent as a hit of cocaine (source). Scary!
I am wondering if social media ‘hits’ may be doing something similar, giving us similar endorphin like feelings?
You’ve heard of endorphins – the euphoria hormones. They cause feelings of well being, bliss. You gotta love anything that makes you feel good! They ‘hit’ us right where it matters – our happiness.
Researcher Paul J. Zak has come to the conclusion that participation in social media often makes us feel this same ‘loved’ feeling by spiking our brains with the ‘cuddle hormone’, oxytocin (source) This could explain some of the addictive nature of social media and why twittering the details of our lives minute by minute is becoming a huge social phenomenon. According to Zak’s research oxytocin levels in blood spike 13.2% in the ten minutes after tweeting.
Could this extra physiological surge drive you and me to seek more and more social media? I like feeling good.
I wonder – do I ever go to my social media site hoping to feel better? I might.
Perhaps get a small “boost” for my self esteem, a small hit of happiness when I see a ‘Like’ on my Facebook site, or have a new follower?
If I am brutally honest with myself, when I drop by my social media accounts I notice one of two things happen;
1) if I find a ‘Like’ or some positive activity I do feel a brief surge of happiness, and
2) if there is little activity, especially positive activity, I notice I feel a wee bit disappointed.
It reminds me of a dear family member, whose entire day and mood was set by the football scores of his favorite team. His wife would dread the games his team lost because of her husband’s moodiness.
Society has been blinded by this new phenomenon. We haven’t wanted to acknowledge our new toy, social media, carries with it some possible addictive tendencies.
We can begin to CRAVE media hits.
We crave notes or news from friends. Our next text message becomes our next drink – from the cup of social acceptance and peer approval. Our Likes are the new popularity measure (#Likes past post). Our feelings can be crushed by being defriended or not followed by another.
Feeling good, well, it feels good. Our bodies are made to crave as Lysa TerKerst reminds us in her book “Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food”. Sometimes – our biology – our very bodies and their cravings – works against our best interests. Perhaps – our physiology is being altered as we use social media.
Like any power, especially, a ‘super’ power, which I believe social media is – we must keep it in check. Our human natures weaken with power. Give us power and we turn ‘it’ on full bore, without watching where we are going. The speed excites us. We feel alive. We are moving.
But, where are we going?
If we don’t open our eyes and program our GPS, we might end up in a totally different location than we planned. If we are aiming for New York, we don’t want to end up in Chicago. Social media fills us with something, and we need to check what we are being filled up on. We need to do a heart check.
How can we truly feel good? Where do we go for comfort? For filling?
I suggest – you and I allow the Lord to be our Social Media Director and allow Him to lead us.
When we crave:
Filling Seek the Lord (not a larger following)
Love Seek the Lord (not a comment on social media)
Self Image Boost Seek the Lord (not a text message)
Comfort Seek the Lord (Not a FB Like)
Save social media for its purpose:
Connection – Not Comfort
Community – Not Nourishment
Information – Not Leading
Instead of seeking man’s approval, man’s Likes, let us seek God, the author of goodness, the giver of goodness, the character of goodness. Let’s not settle for any imitation!
“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
Human beings who are but grass, that you forget the Lord Your Maker,
Who stretches out the heavens and who lays the foundations of the earth.”