Business Today 14th January 2018 - Page 34

THE BUZZ SOCIAL UNIVERSE SOCIAL BUBBLE The perils of instant nt gratification on social media. BY SONAL KHETARPAL THE CRITICISM OF FACEBOOK, FOR INSTANCE, STEMS FROM ITS POWER TO SWAY THE INTELLECTUAL CAPABILITIES AND BELIEF SYSTEMS OF THE SOCIETY AT LARGE FORMER FACEBOOK vice president dent Chamath Palihapitiya unleashed a ty- phoon in the virtual world with his s “social media is ripping apart society” remark. mark. He minced no words stating that social media sites encouraged “fake, brittle ittle popularity,” pushing users into a “vicious circle” of sharing posts to gain others’ hers’ approval. Palihapitiya is not the only nly one to raise concerns about the downside of social media usage. The Chinese government was the first in the world, in 2008, to recognise internet addiction as a condition and set up bootcamps to help people overcome it. A report published in June 2017 by the UK-based think tank Education Policy In- stitute found that 27 per cent of children who spend more than three hours a day on social networking sites on school days displayed ‘symptoms of mental ill health’. The crux of this issue is biological, says Siddharth Deshmukh, Associate Dean, Area Leader – Digital Platform & Strategies at MICA. “People get addicted to the dopamine rush when their friends ‘like’ or comment on their post.” Dopa- mine is the ‘reward molecule’ that gets released in the brain after an accomplish- ment. Social media has catalysed the feedback cycle through instantaneous comments or likes in a way it was never possible earlier. “This feeling of exhilara- tion from quick social reinforcement drives people to check new notifica- tions again and again – especially those suff ering from insecurities and wanting external validation to make meaning of their lives,” Deshmukh adds. Professor Sudhir Voleti, Assistant Professor Marketing, The Indian School 34 I BUSINESS TODAY I January 14 I 2018 of Business, points to the algorithm at play on social media platforms with the singular motive of driving engagement. This means a user will see content that he/ she is mostly likely to view, share, comment or read, read and not content that may prompt any kind of cognitive disso- nance, introspection or critical thinking. “Always reading ‘comfortable’ posts reinforces their own bubble of content- ment, entrenching their beliefs further and making society more dismissive of counter narratives,” Voleti adds. The criticism of Facebook, for instance, stems from its power to sway the intellectual capabilities and belief systems of the society at large. Many attri- bute the increasing incidence of trolling and political divisions across the globe to social media platforms. Sean Parker, former president of Facebook, recently talked about how the social network “literally changes your relationship with society and with each other...” A blog post written by Facebook’s se- nior research executives, acknowledges the unpleasant eff ect the social network can have on people. “When people spend a lot of time passively consuming information – reading, but not interacting with people – they report feeling worse afterward,” the post said, referring to an experiment conducted on students from University of Michigan. Though shunning social media plat- forms altogether may be an overreaction, experts say limiting its use and exercising discretion would certainly help. @sonalkhetarpal7