Click. Tap. Click. Tap.
The sounds of my fingers reacting to social media notifications.
There’s no doubt — we all do it. We’re all unavoidably drawn to the clicking of the little red badge with the numbers. Question is, why do we do it? What do we get out of it?
The answer: biology.
Believe it or not, our brains are wired to respond reactively to social media notifications. Each time we complete any task or project, big or small, in this case clicking on our social media notifications, our brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter that increases our feelings of accomplishment, overall satisfaction and happiness. It’s the same reason why we feel good when we accomplish our goals, eat good food or have sex.
So normally, that’s a good thing — because who doesn’t want to feel happier and more accomplished? But as they say, too much of anything is bad for you. Dopamine is the same; it’ll eventually become excessive.
Year after year, our social media notifications increasingly grows — just Facebook alone, there are 510,000 comments, 293,000 status updates, and 136,000 photos uploaded every 60 seconds. With how frequent our notifications are becoming, there’s no wonder why our brain becomes fried from the onslaught of continuous dopamine rushes.
The analogy to best describe the scenario would be eating our favorite foods. It’s good the first time, the second time and probably even the next 10 times, but what happens when we’re forced to eat it over and over again, multiple times a day, multiple days a week? We’d be sick of it.
It’s the same with overdosing on the dopamine rushes we get from checking our social media notifications, except the effects are multiplied. We’re happy the first 10, 20, or maybe 1000 times, but eventually, we become immune because we’ll have developed a tolerance for it.
That’s when life changes because things that used to easily make us happy will no longer be. And as we continue to build a tolerance towards the small things that make us happy, we’ll continue investing even more time and energy into checking our notifications — or in other words, fall even deeper into the rabbit hole.
So the question now is, how we do fix this addiction? How do we pull ourselves out of this endless cycle of incessant notifications?
Simply by changing your environment.
Jim Kwik, one of the people I respect the most for his work in brain performance and accelerated learning, talks about the impact of the environment we’re in. He says, by changing our environment, we’re setting ourselves for likelier success. An example would be someone trying to cut off junk food — to do so, it helps not having the junk food in the house or anywhere in sight in the first place. Fix the problem by changing your environment.
Social media notifications can be easily disabled or muted, your phone turned on silent or tucked away.
Question is, will you?