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The Power of Social Media On Our Unconscious Thought Process


Back in 2004 when 19-year-old Mark Zuckerburg and company formed I can’t imagine they envisioned the level of influence their creation would have over humanity — or, maybe they did. Maybe they watched way too many episodes of Pinky and the Brain and figured this was the way to take over the world. Jokingly, of course. But, hah, it kinda worked. I wonder if they knew they had developed a product that would one day turn into a thing so powerful that it could be used to influence and control the way people thought and acted, on a global level.

Whether you like to believe it or not, social media has mastered the influence game. It highly influences our shopping habits, relationships, education, our political bias, and even our mental health state. It has been proven time and time again and begs the question, “to what extent have I been influenced?” And, “in what way?”

It also prompts this thought — now, state and non state actors are using social media for cyber warfare to disrupt societies — ie: interfering in political matters and sparking civil unrest by magnifying social issues.

The Science Behind the Social Media Addiction

It all comes down to our reward pathway— dopamine pathway.

Social media companies are consistently reviewing and adjusting their reward strategies to dominate your attention. They use algorithms, conduct studies, and consult top psychologists to determine the best method to influence you and create addicts.

Likes, to feed your ego

Notifications, to keep you wanting and direct your attention at any moment.

“Refresh” option to keep you wanting more.

Bottomless feeds. No stopping point.

“According to a new study by Harvard University, self-disclosure on social networking sites lights up the same part of the brain that also ignites when taking an addictive substance.”

Your attention is their money maker. This is how they find out more about you. This is how they track your usage, your likes, your dislikes, and figure out how you tick. How many hours do you spend on your social media per day? The average American spends 2 hours and 24 minutes on social media a day. That is a lot of time to learn intimate details about you. Each click speaks volumes about your behaviors.

This information is sold to companies, policy groups, and other actors who use it to push their own agenda.

In doing this, these entities can use this information, place it into an algorithm and feed whatever information they want you to see, and it is fed to you based on how you prefer absorbing information.

The implications of this are great. Most concerning — our thought-process is being controlled.

Former Facebook high ranking employees acknowledge the threat:

I feel tremendous guilt… I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, Facebook’s former vice president for user growth…As Antonio García Martínez, a former product manager at Facebook, writes in his memoir, Chaos Monkeys, the company is actually “the regulator of the biggest accumulation of personal data since DNA”. As well as recording and analysing our activities on Facebook itself, the social media company also collects data on many of our other online activities, and it even buys information from data collection companies, such as Experian, about your offline life. This information can include — but is certainly not limited to — your income, your credit history, outstanding loans, your credit limits, and essentially any purchase you’ve ever made with a card.

These apps are free because their customer is not us, their customers are advertisers, data collection companies, and consumer research groups. The more time you spend scrolling, the more money they make.

Not only is our information readily available to these companies, but it is also available to political groups, as we have learned, to influence our vote and our ideas on social issues.

Do you really think it stops there?

The Bottom Line

We need a healthier relationship with social media. More generally, we need to have a larger discussion about the media at large and how and where we read or listen to our news. Everyone has an agenda.

In the meantime, try these tips to build a better relationship with social media.

Social media detox

Unfollow people or groups that make you feel less than or harvest negative feelings

Schedule social media time and follow your schedule


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