Dopamine is a natural chemical released in the body by the brain and kidneys. The chemical reaction sends signals between the brain and other nerve cells. Dopamine neurons are then triggered in the brain. I looked that up and that's about as sciencey as I'm going to get for now.
The point being that dopamine is associated with pleasure, joy and even euphoria and of course being happy. Let's face it, we all want to be happy! The other thing is that dopamine is very, very addictive.
Studies in neuroscience (yes, I do know a few big sciencey words) have shown that dopamine is directly related to reward-motivated behaviour. Where humans and wild animals need a reward or minor gratification as a coping mechanism for stress or simply to function throughout the day. When a high level of dopamine is released in the body through vigorous exercise, for example, the brain receives messages of reward and pleasure and the desire to repeat the process. With low levels, we can feel a lack of motivation or enthusiasm.
When it comes to social media (yes that topic again) and our increasing dependency on knowing what's going on instantly, the concept of being acknowledged by a ‘like' or a smiley emoji has been proven to trigger dopamine. The same can be said of checking emails, texts and WhatsApp messages. In other words, the reward triggers a rush or feeling of happiness for probably a split second which happens to be addictive.
From my research, I've found that no one is saying this is harmful but at the same time it's not a good reflection of where we have got to in society and where we are going. This especially applies to the younger generation but the same can be said for all ages or anyone with a social media account being used regularly. The dopamine reward rush or high is the same chemical reaction generated by physical exercise but on a much smaller scale and without moving from the sofa.
Marketing companies have tapped into this by incorporating advertising into the ‘like' or reward mentality. Ad campaigns for businesses gain encourage us to like their page or post which not only builds social media platform status but also search rankings with the likes of Google. By liking a business page or post, the user will continue to receive notifications or advertisements relating to the product or event. A clever way of sneaking advertising under our noses without us realising it.
I've discussed social media quite regularly on Digital Speak along with its proven advantages and disadvantages. The younger generation, mainly females are the highest affected group with addiction issues. This especially applies to millennials (anyone born after 1981 and more specifically in the 21st century) growing up in a world with the internet and have never known any different.
As always, we need to keep an eye on it and remember to get back to basics. Put the smartphone, tablet or computer away, go and talk to people and get some exercise.
Some more sources of information on the subject:
Plus, some related Digital Speak posts:
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