Social media is a fascinating new human phenomenon.
When we look at it deeply from the brain’s point of view, we start to understand that the brain is the social organ of the body.
Now it makes more sense that social media and brain functions go hand in hand.
The reason that social media has taken off and became so popular in the last ten years is because the brain is social, and people want to connect with each other.
But when you look how social media grows, evolves, and changes itself, you start to see a pattern of where social media starts to shape the brain.
So that the brain is responsive to culture.
Dr. Dan Siegel discovered that cultural experiences sent out as messages to society, that are mediated through communication, shape the actual structure of the brain.
It’s a two-way street.
The brain created social media and social media shapes the brain.
One of the simple things that social media does is that it brings us back to a feeling of, at one level, that we are having the connections that we evolved to have.
Is Social Media Replacing Things?
Another way that the platforms of social media have changed the way we think is through the use of social interactions.
Too many times we opt-out of the real life social experience, only to be found in a corner tapping away frantically on our phones or tablets to our internet friends.
Has social media changed the way we build relationships?
From the brain’s point of view again, the difference between email and social media vs. face to face interaction is very interesting.
Studies have shown what its like when you’re with someone face to face. There are 7 signals that are always prevalent when you are in a real social interaction with a person:
- Eye contact
- Facial expression
- Tone of voice
This is what all of social media is lacking. Social media is full of non-verbal communications.
When you look at what area of the brain that sends out those non-verbal signals and receives them to make sense of them, it is the right hemisphere of the brain.
The right hemisphere of the brain is closely connected to the lower regions of the brain and those lower regions work throughout the body itself to create our emotions.
Without any of this from social media interactions, the brain has to do some guesswork as to whether or not to build a relationship with this particular person.
We can’t tell the tone of what the person is saying, we aren’t sure of the intensity, or if someone is saying something jokingly, or if they are really serious. It’s a hit and miss scenario.
Social media is cheating us out of building a true relationship with each other due to this flaw.
However, when you look at it this way, without social media, we would have never made that connection in the first place, so is it still a bad thing?
The more that people spend time using non-verbal signals instead of using verbal signals, as in a true conversation, the more they activate the left hemisphere of the brain.
The left hemisphere of the brain is much more distant from the lower areas of the body and therefore doesn’t provide the emotions needed.
Even thinking about how people are going to care about you or “Like” you, is a left brain action called social display rules.
From a hemisphere point of view, social media is not getting people more face to face time with each other or getting them to get in touch with what’s going on inside of them, then the new generation will be much more used to a more surfaced level of interactions.
The longer social media exists, the less likely you will see people getting together in a true social setting.
Don’t get me wrong, social media is great for business and there are plenty of great things you can do with it to succeed, but from a psychological standpoint, we are drifting away from true social settings and becoming more involved with the internet world, and that is the change that can hurt you.
There is nothing wrong with social media, but if it is replacing time with face to face interactions that could be a BIG problem for us in the long run.
Making the Change
If your job is social or social is something you find yourself doing for more than 3 hours per day, then you should take a look at some of these tips you can use to help yourself get out of the rut that social media is pulling your brain into.
Never underestimate the power of disconnecting. Can you even do it? I remember when I first tried to disconnect from the internet. I only had to do it for one day. It was hard. I was so surprised at how often I wanted to check my phone, or get on Google+ or some other social network.
Disconnect yourself for a day, recharge your batteries and get into a real social interaction! The barber shop is always a good one for me. It’s got all of the older guys in there talking about fishing and hunting, and one could easily lose three hours in there.
Find your barber shop and unplug.
Do some talking
Take your wife or your husband out for dinner. Catch up with them on a personal level. If you’re a social media business person then you have probably spent too much time in the office, and not enough time talking to the people you love. This will help you get more social interaction and strengthen the bond between you and your significant other.
For goodness sake, the internet’s not going anywhere! Get out and have some fun! Not only does the social media engagement hurt your brain, but sitting there in your seat hurts your health too! It is recommended for people that sit while they work to get up and exercise every hour. Go throw the ball around and look at something else besides the computer screen for a bit.
Keep A Consistent Habit
Finally, when you do start to get used to unplugging and connecting outside of social media with other people, make sure you make it a habit. Don’t stray from these tips, and make your kids adhere to these rules too. If it’s not good for you to stay cooped up on social media all day, then you already know it’s not good for them to do it either!