The real reasons why we do what we do on social media - Executips


Sunday, December 29, 2019

The real reasons why we do what we do on social media

If you are so attached to your gadget, you’re not being abnormal. You’re just being a mammal.

As a social animal, we find comfort, security, and pleasure in our herd of relatives, loved ones and people with the same interests as us. They’re all in our feed.

Why we do social media first thing in the morning

Oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone”, is released when we are near a person that we love or like. Its release is also triggered if we’re merely thinking of them. It feels good. It makes us happy inside. We subconsciously seek that oxytocin high when we scroll down through familiar faces. It’s a great way to get perked up at 630 am.

In a article, journalist and HR expert Courtney Seiter said some people get from social media the same level of oxytocin as on their wedding day.

It has also been observed that looking at an attractive person, a nice vacation place and an appetizing picture raises our dopamine levels. Dopamine is the feel-good hormone associated with the promise of a reward.

Why we like getting likes

A "like" on social media can be an affirmation of ourselves, our looks, our achievements, our choices, etc. Being affirmed is being seen as likable, at the least, accepted.

I had a recent podcast conversation with Dr. Loretta Breuning, world-renowned author and founder of the Inner Mammal Institute. She explained that it is a mammal survival instinct to seek acceptance by the herd. The herd serves as a standby parent for when the real parent dies. In addition, mammals are conditioned to attract a partner because we need to be paired for the propagation of our genes.

Why we like taking and posting selfies

Selfies not only show our pretty faces and beach bodies. They also tell a lot about our social status,  tastes,  interests, choices, our personality and attitude, our circle of friends, etc.

Psychologist Mark D. Griffiths is one of the experts who say that selfies are “an efficient 
form of self-expression.” Selfies help the person “create their identity or how they wish others to see them.” What the person achieves is a “boosted self-esteem.”

Identity is a basic need of every individual. A presentable identity is what we work hard for.

Why we share content

Sharing content is an extension of the selfie in the aspect of self-expression. It is our way of telling people what we care about, or what makes us laugh, cry or shocked. We are also gratified by the “likes” and “shares” they earn. Seiter reported in the same article, “62% of people say they feel better when people react positively to what they post on social media.”

Sharing something good is also an instinct we developed when homo sapiens started forming bands. As described in Moral Origins by Christopher Boem, selfishness was punished with ostracism or banishment. That’s also the reason why we “like” what others put out there. We are reciprocating because reciprocity was essential to survival in the earliest periods of human history.

Why we take and share food pictures

Food ranks first among all animal needs for survival. Higher than sex. That’s why we are all attracted to food.

Kathryn Zerbe, a psychiatrist specializing in eating disorders and food fixation, was quoted in a New Times online article. She said, ”in the unconscious mind, food equals love because food is our earliest connection to our caretaker.”

My own theory on social media food porn is this: humans naturally appreciate things with symmetry, nice colors, texture, harmony. Because we know that the appealing food presentation is gone as soon as we consume the food, we want to immortalize and share it through a digital record.

Why we rant

Dr. Breuning explained in her books how a bad thing makes the stress hormone cortisol surge. Then we feel upset. Then the cortisol compels us to “do something.” When the offender is near, we either fight or run away. When there’s no one to fight, we kick the trash can. Or slam the door. Or yell. Or file a complaint. The act of “doing something” soothes away the bad feeling even though it may not actually change the situation. Venting, ranting or filing a report gives us some sense of control even if illusory.

Many say that social media can cause depression, create materialism or spread hate. Anything can cause anything. Even traditional media can ruin lives if used in that way. It’s really up to us. As long as we retain control, the social media or any media can be used to make ourselves feel good, make others feel good, and make the world a community where there’s a lot of sharing of good things.

Read :

First Camera, Then Fork by Kate Murphy on the New York Times website

Habits of A Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphin Levels by Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D.

Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism and Shame by Christopher Boem

The Psychology of Social Media: Why We Like, Comment, and Share Online by Courtney Seiter on

The Psychology of the Selfie by Mark D. Griffiths, Ph.D. on the Psychology Today website

The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns by Changing Your Brain Chemistry by Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D.

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