Addicted to social media? Or addicted to ourselves?

It is beyond dispute that most of us use social media apps for virtual socializing and connecting with our family and friends.  From the ritual of photographing our food every time before enjoying physically to showcasing our healthy daily living during each exercising regime, many people incorporate social media posting as their daily routine.  In fact, the positive reinforcement from getting positive comments and reactions in our posting drives us to continually posting our lives in these apps.  In fact, the positive comments and reactions from our family and friends reinforce our positive view of ourselves again and again.  As time goes by, our views about ourselves become fixed in the way we wanted to project in the social media. 

For instance, if a person wants her family and friends perceiving her as a “good wife” and “good mother”, she may create postings that confirm her wish of being a “good wife” and a “good mother”.  When her family and friends responded to her postings with positive comments and reactions repeatedly, she started to form her sense of who she is, a “good wife” and a “good mother”.  In fact, when we received positive comments and reactions from others in the social media, there is an increase of the level of dopamine in our brain.  As a result, we feel good and high immediately.  There is evidence that this reward-based learning by increasing dopamine level of our brain is addictive.  In the long-run, we crave for the dopamine high and cannot control ourselves from keep feeding our urge to receive positive comments and reactions from our postings.

There is nothing wrong with using social media for creating a persona that constitutes our “self”.  Indeed, we need to have a stable sense of self to a certain extent.  For example, we need to have a healthy view of ourselves being a good enough person in this world.  It is normal for us to make postings of our healthy lives and achievements to tell our family and friends about our lives.  It is also one of the possible ways to connect and socialize.  However, if we went to far to the extreme and engaged in too much ego-boosting by using the social media, we become addicted to ourselves.  In the extreme, our purpose of lives becomes seeking the approval from others and obtaining attention and admiration from the world.  We become extremely biased in viewing our “self.  Our ego becomes too big and we misperceive ourselves as being the center of the world.

Many of the psychological problems of human beings are related to our addiction to ourselves.  If we want to be fully engaged in our lives and have a more objective sense of self, we may need to be less addicted to focus on our “self”.  Our lives become richer and more meaningful if we let go of creating a persona in front of our audience in the social media.  On the contrary, we may try to live our lives more experientially.  For instance, instead of focusing on creating an eye-catching postings when we are having our dinner, we may try to focus of the tasting of our food.  This way of turning our attention inwards enable us to realise our true “self” more, instead of focusing on the persona we could like to project to others. 

Of course, we do not need to be living a live without a persona, in order to be true to ourselves.  Indeed, we can learn to strive a balance between obtaining recognition from others for our achievements and experiencing our lives fully with mindful engagement.  In fact, there is no harm to make postings to showcase our lives to others from time to time, if we bear in mind that we need to see ourselves objectively.  In this way, we do not take success or failure too seriously and can live a life with real peace.

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