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Writing Blog

But First, Let Me Tell You Why Selfies Are Addicting

Roderick Campbell

by Janne Robinson

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Have you ever deleted a photograph on Instagram because it didn’t hit the 11 like mark?

Or have you deleted a status on Facebook because there wasn’t enough interaction with it? Felt “high” on a status that acquired 80 likes?

Research done by a CSUN psychology professor, Dr. Delinah Hurwitz, suggests that people overuse Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites because of an addiction to endorphins released in the body during the process of posting.

It might explain why we wake up with our cell phones in the morning.

One in five page views in the United States is on Facebook. 40 million photographs are uploaded per day on Instagram and there are 1,000 comments per second. Twitter users post 750 tweets per second.

There was a satirical article released this week on “selfie” takers having a mental disorder. It talked about the obsessive compulsive tendencies to take a photo and post it on social media, and watch it accumulate likes which in turn fuels low self esteem and fills an intimacy gap.

I didn’t think it strayed too far from the truth.

A Facebook or Instagram “like” is essentially like someone passing you on the street and telling you, “Hey! Your new jeans make your butt look like Ryan Goslings abs!”

Endorphins are hormones released within the brain and nervous system that causes a state of well being. We release endorphins naturally through laughing, running, eating chocolate or spicy food, listening to music or having sex. Endorphins are our “feel good drugs.”

What if we are stimulated in a similar way from Instagram and Facebook “likes” and Twitter favorites as well?

Social media can be addicting—throw it in there with cigarettes, coffee, alcohol and therapy shopping.

I’m not saying you should go on a social media strike.

I kiss the ground upon which technology walks; it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends you’ve met across the sea, family that lives in a different province, market and promote your business. Google is Jesus reincarnated.

The other day doing research online for an upcoming film, I found a British ornithologist through Twitter after searching for five minutes on Google and he tweeted me back within the hour. That’s amazing!

Social media is a cost effective, powerful and incredible tool in the marketing world. It’s also a great way to stay close to people in your life, and stay aware of the news of our world.

The Dalai Lama is on Facebook, and so is my grandma.

So if social media will continue to thrive—perhaps we should listen to the truth behind Delinah Hurwitz’s words. We must be careful not to allow social media to be a direct IV hookup to our self-esteem. Allowing selfies, photographs of food, check ins at restaurants, and statuses to feed our egos is backwards and damaging.

Using social media is fine as long as you balance living out there in the world with real fleshy human beings—the ones you can hold eye contact with, crack a smile over a joke, followed by some belly keeling  ha-ha’s.

It’s the difference between buying socks because all of yours were eaten by the dryer or buying a new shirt every weekend to boost self esteem.

Like most things, social media requires balance and moderation.