Whether it’s the flash of a camera or the thrill of a thousand Instagram likes, the brain responds with a cocktail of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, endorphin (which reduce pain perception), and dopamine (the body’s own chemical “pleasure” producer). The desire for dopamine can be quite difficult to control at times. Your brain releases a big shot of neurochemical dopamine every time you look through Instagram, watch something on YouTube or Netflix, get likes on your posts, masturbate to porn, or take a bite of a juicy hamburger.
The hypothetical world
The world of social media is built on the concept of recognition. While some claim that they only share to express themselves and not to impress others, their egos are still craving recognition and acceptance from others. And how do you think this craving is going to get satiated? You guessed it right. Through likes, comments, views, and shares. And what if the person does not receive the expected number of likes and reach? It encourages insecurity and misunderstanding, leading to mental health issues and low self-esteem.
The issue isn’t self-control; these apps are created by professionals (including psychologists) to get people addicted to them. You can try to limit your usage by exercising “self-control,” but you will never be able to escape the alternate reality created by these apps.
Instagram’s solution to this problem was to hide likes on the platform. The goal of suppressing Instagram likes, according to Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri in 2019, was to create a more positive online atmosphere. He emphasises the objective was to de-stress Instagram, make it less of a competition, and give users more time to engage with the people and things that inspire them.
What should we do?
Trying to live in the moment rather than blazing your eyes and mind in the illusory reality is one of the best things we can do. For instance, take advantage of every opportunity to travel without worrying about how it will appear on Instagram. While watching the sunset, the number of likes and comments should be the last thing on your mind. It’s a good idea to unplug while travelling, both literally and metaphorically. Don’t worry about staying in touch or taking pictures of anything. Simply be present, gaze around, and be amazed. Also, keep in mind that “when the product is free, we are the product.”