Why We Love Posting on Facebook

Brad M. Griffin | May 29, 2012

Weve written before that Facebook has the power to make us miserable and in fact can cause sadness in college students. But why do we keep going back? Especially for teenagers, why is social media so compellingsome say even addictive?

A recent Harvard study suggests these outlets are like brain candy, in that using social media actually triggers pleasure centers of the brain. According to the LA Times overview,

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that the act of disclosing information about oneself activates the same sensation of pleasure in the brain that we get from eating food, getting money or having sex[O]ur brain considers self-disclosure to be a rewarding experience.

Note this study isnt actually about using Facebook, but taps into one of the key features of social media: talking about ourselves.

Other research points to the ways our brains are wired to connect with others, and that perhaps its this connection (whether or not we talk about ourselves) that is so important. But connecting virtually can dull our drive to connect in person. Reflecting on the ways social media seems to be sucking usyoung and old alikeinto its grip, blogger David Rock wonders:

Throughout history, whenever a new technology emerged that dramatically changed how people interacted, it took time for our human practices to catch up. When the automobile first came out, people would drive at all speeds, in every direction. Eventually road rules and speed limits were put in place, and the world was a safer place. Facebook per se is not evil, just as cars are not evil. However our relationship with the automobile is safer overall with some rules in place, combined with good driver education.

Perhaps we need to start thinking about some road rules and speed limits for social media use. This is certainly important for our kids, whose self-regulation circuits are just forming. However given that self regulation is not one of our strong suits in modern society, perhaps we all need a better understanding of the impact of this new tool on our very ability to think.

Now theres something to think about. I love this article by therapist Rhett Smith helping us think critically about creating boundaries around social media in our lives. What do you think?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.

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