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How Dopamine Driven Feedback Loops Work?

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Recently, I stumbled upon a talk by Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder, and CEO of Social Capital. He was a former VP of Facebook responsible for user growth. He spoke about something called dopamine feedback loop and how social media companies are exploiting the psychology of people for making a profit.

First of all, what’s a dopamine?

Many of you might already know what dopamine is. Dopamine is an organic chemical that plays an important role in your day-to-day brain functions. It is a neurotransmitter which is released by neurons in your brain to send signals to other nerve cells.

Our brain has several dopamine pathways which are responsible for reward-motivated behavior. Most of the rewards regardless of small or large, increase the level of dopamine in your brain. Many of those addictive drugs do the same by increasing the dopamine neuronal activity. Whenever you feel like you got a reward for your actions, you will get a dose of dopamine in your brain.

So, how dopamine driven feedback loops work?

Have you ever posted on a social media site just for the sake of getting likes, hearts, thumbs ups, comments, etc., from your online friends/followers? It could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp or any other apps. If the answer is YES, it means you have been psychologically exploited by these social media sites/apps.

How dopamine driven feedback loops work

These hearts, likes, comments, thumbs ups etc., are short-term signals which your brain takes them as rewards for the action (that social media post you made) you just did. This short-term rewards will make your neurons release more dopamine and make you feel good for some time.

The more the rewards, the more we are psychologically manipulated to post again to get likes, hearts, thumbs ups, and comments. This way, you will get trapped in this vicious cycle just like how people are getting addicted to drugs.

Social media limits human-human interaction. No civil discourse, no co-operation, misinformation, mistruth are just some of the side effects of social media. It is not limited to one country. It is a global problem. By using social media adverts and sponsored posts, bad people can now actually manipulate a large number of people to make them believe whatever he wants them to believe.

Bad people can manipulate social media for how dopamine driven feedback loops work.

Save yourself and your family from this vicious cycle.

Whether you know this truth or not, social media companies are continuously exploiting the psychology of mass population. Social media is ripping apart the fabric of how society works and how humans interact with each other. We might think that social media is connecting the people and bringing everyone closer. Because that’s what these social media companies want us to think.

About Santhosh Kumar D

Aeronautical engineer and a science enthusiast. Also an editor & founder of Svash Media.

6 Comments

  1. Karthik

    February 26, 2018 at 9:09 am

    When things are free on the internet, you are the product. Of all the services, the echo chamber Facebook is the most nefarious one well-known for its unethical psychological studies on its own users without consent. It is also one of the primary reasons why the current communication domain on the internet is full of garbage.

    • Santhosh Kumar D

      February 26, 2018 at 9:23 am

      True that! People need to be more aware of what’s happening behind that curtain.

      • Karthik

        February 26, 2018 at 9:31 am

        Ha ha. Most people don’t care. What can you expect from people who are very well aware of all this, yet ready to forego their privacy for some digital convenience? I’m not saying that these dopamine hits are bad entirely, it’s the black area where they try to capitalize it. That’s outright exploitation of human psychology. What’s the difference between a drug lord and Facebook here? They’re all the same.

        • ashish

          April 28, 2018 at 8:45 am

          absolutely!

  2. Angela Blackthorne

    September 7, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    So the question is how could we use these technologies to benefit humanity. Is anyone doing it right?

    • Santhosh Kumar D

      September 15, 2018 at 11:46 am

      All those popular social networks out there exploit the human psychology in one way or another. Sadly, all the new social networks that emerge tend to follow the same path set by those successful social media giants. I personally find no benefits in using these social media technologies and I believe real-world interactions are much better than social media interactions. There is always an alternative way to reach out to people.

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