Musings —05.08.2015 08:30 AM—
“The real issue is me. Twitter is an addictive little thing, and if it’s there, I gotta check it. When you keep doing something after it stops giving you pleasure, that’s kind of rock bottom for an addict…I just had a little moment of clarity where I’m like, You know what? If I want to get stuff done, I need to not constantly hit this thing for a news item or a joke or some praise, and then be suddenly sad when there’s hate and then hate and then hate.”
I don’t think the issue is Twitter, per se. Twitter, to me, is the global water cooler – and also the new global news service. It is far, far more valuable than Facebook or some other social media platform.
The issue is one all of us observed when we all got our first Blackberries, or our first smartphones: the addictive nature of those little bits of data pinging onto our device. There have been myriad studies about it, suggesting that our tendency to constantly check our devices actually stimulates the release of dopamine in our brains:
“…before long, people were referring to their BlackBerries as CrackBerries, and parents were beginning to worry about the number of hours their kids spent on video games. We now believe that the compulsion to continually check email, stock prices, and sporting scores on smartphones is driven in some cases by dopamine releases that occur in anticipation of receiving good news. Indeed, we have grown so addicted to our smartphones that we now experience “phantom smartphone buzzing,” which tricks our brains into thinking our phone is vibrating when it isn’t.”
I have been in bands with guys who check their devices between songs onstage. I have been in campaign meetings where the device-checking got so bad, the campaign manager had to confiscate people’s devices. And, of course, all of us see people checking their devices when they drive, every single day.
The social media platform isn’t the problem – and nor is the problem the type of device we have. The problem, as Whedon suggests, is us: our brains are wired in such a way that we are addicted to precisely the sort of stimulation our devices provide.
Anyway, I doubt some of you have gotten this far in my little exegesis. I’ve wildly exceeded my 140 character limit!