Ever wondered why your ‘five more minutes’ never sticks and instead turns into an hour? And before you know it, you are turning off the lights at 3.45am instead of 10.45pm?
If this is you, don’t panic. I am a fellow victim too.
As one who often struggles to keep my end of MY own mental bargain with my brain to not scroll through my phone after five minutes, I’ve always asked myself why that’s the case.
It took me long enough to finally uncover the culprit – Mr. Scroll Hole.
Before you start scratching your head over this strange term, you should know that there’s actually such a phrase in the Urban Dictionary.
In it, the Scroll Hole is defined as:
Before swiping right became the new phenomenon, scrolling has always been a huge part of the social media experience. With algorithms engineered to your preference and viewing history, scrolling is often likened to diving into an endless ocean. With so much to explore and new interests to be found, you can never stop browsing.
In fact, most mobile applications are designed to function like slot machines to keep you hooked, with the only exception being that there’s little to no money involved.
Dopamine sugar high
For centuries, humans have experimented with a plethora of ways to feel a rush of euphoria, both legally and illegally. And the same applies to social media use.
Whenever we come across media content such as memes that tickle our funny bone (don’t ask me where it is), the brain releases dopamine, commonly known as the ‘feel-good’ hormone. Once it wears off, our body aches for another round and would do anything to get it back.
As this cycle continues, social media will eventually cease to be enjoyable and instead becomes something that we (subconsciously) see as a need in our lives.
And no one exploits this better than app developers.
A finish line that doesn’t exist
Our brain is wired to recieve internal and external cues that let us know that it’s time to stop. For example, we would call it quits at a buffet line because we either feel full (internal cue), or that the plate is empty (external cue).
However, the ‘on/off’ switch doesn’t exist in social media. Its design is infinite. Have you ever gotten to the last page of a Google or Facebook search? Of course not.
Why? Because there’s no such thing as ‘running out’ of content.
YouTube is a perfect example of this. After you’ve finished watching a video, its auto play feature goes on to the next video whether you’ve consented to it or not. And because most of us (including yours truly) are too lazy to turn it off, we’re content to have it continue to blare videos that may not be beneficial.
Like slot machines at a casino, social media has become the golden ticket for big corporations to rake in huge revenue without batting an eye over potential addiction.
How then, can we curb this paralyzing addiction? Experts recommend a number of ways to do so such as placing our phones at hard-to-reach areas, removing push notifications, and even setting thought-provoking questions at the lockscreen.
If these sound too daunting for you, think of the possible rewards that come when you’re finally able to break free from the clutches of social media. Less stress, depression, and low self esteem. Who wouldn’t want that?
But until then, please excuse me while I check the latest happenings on Twitter before regretting doing it in the first place. :P
Cover photos via Esther
Editor: Grace Choong
Proofreader: Sarah Yeoh