How Facebook (FB) is Altering Your Mind

Facebook-coke.jpg

It’s been called FaceCrack.

And if you have been getting a sinking feeling when you use Facebook that you did not have as a first-time or new user… if you have a hard time with people who use it or incessantly check it (such as those endlessly posting photos of their latest meal, cat experience, new flame, new car, vacation)…

If you have been wondering if Facebook (FB) is good for you – or is good for society… or have been thinking “this has got to end,” then this blog post is for YOU.

(and my HyperLearning Presentation may be for you, too.)

From Twinkies to rainbows, football games to architectural styles, music, manners of speech and touches of skin, weather patterns, sleep quality and human relationships, to hallucinogens, television programming, prayer and meditation… everything is altering your mind – providing a rich tapestry of state experiences that flow on 24/7/365 for your whole life.

But what about Facebook? Is it really altering your mind? Absolutely. Significantly. It is changing the physical structure of your brain’s neural network, which even changes how you feel about yourself and other people. And in ways that may surprise and enlighten you.

This is Your Brain. This is Your Brain on the Internet.

Have you ever noticed the rush you get from checking your email, googling a subject of interest, browsing your Twitter feed, receiving a text from your love interest, peeking at what your friends are up to on Facebook, or other similar internet-fueled activities? Did you notice that the anticipation of receiving the information you had sought out was often more gratifying than receipt of the information itself?

A biologically-based need for seeking drives these Internet activities that you come to crave. The culprit that propels your seeking behavior is a simple organic chemical, or neurotransmitter, called dopamine.

That is Krista Peck in “The Role of Dopamine in Internet Craving.”

I am not going to reinvent the wheel here. What Krista is about to explain is going to tell you a LOT about what is going on behind your eyeballs when you surf the interwebs, and it looks a lot like one of those pigeons B.F. Skinner fed pellets to as a reward for certain behaviors. Pay attention, this is going to be important as you develop a more full understanding of the implications FB has on the human brain and mind. Peck writes:

Dopamine is a key player in the brain system concerned with reward-driven learning. Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, sleep, dreaming, mood, and attention – just to name a few! Dopamine is released by rewarding experiences such as food, sex, drugs, and neutral stimuli which become associated with these things.

New studies suggest that dopamine regulates the motivation to act. Recent observations indicate that the brain is more active when people are anticipating a reward rather than receiving one. This is because we are wired to seek, and to really enjoy the thrill of the hunt.

Examples of seeking behavior can be seen in various human activities, such as rainforest tribes hunting and gathering to ensure survival, young adults ritualistically going out on weekends to find fun and potential sexual partners, and comparison shopping when looking for the perfect new piece of furniture to add to your home.

In the digital age, we have various ways to send and receive information – which can be a blessing and a curse. We have tools that allow us to satisfy our information-seeking cravings with instant gratification.

The Internet can ensnare you in a dopamine loop since it makes the process of reward-seeking so quick and easy. Before you know it, you have several tabs open in your Internet browser so you can monitor and engage with your various social media channels while you try to get some work done. Over time, you may add more channels and/or check them more frequently.

This all starts sounding a lot like addiction, doesn’t it?

Well, you have to remember that the thing between you and the Internet is a pesky neurotransmitter called dopamine.

Basically, we like dopamine surges – and we get some of the best ones when we are hunting for something new. Actually getting the something new is a downer… so the hunt is where the best dopamine surges are found.

Web Addicts

They have a term for it: Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). And what is being found out of recent studies in China is that “web addicts have brain changes similar to those hooked on drugs or alcohol.”

In a study of 17 men and women who answered “Yes” to the question, “Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop Internet use?” MRI scans of their brains showed evidence of disruption to connections in nerve fibres linking brain areas involved in emotions, decision making, and self-control.

Dr Hao Lei and colleagues write, “Overall, our findings indicate that IAD has abnormal white matter integrity in brain regions involving emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control.”

Neuroplasticity is the term used to describe the ability of our brains to change themselves over our whole lifetime. What we are finding – even from brain scans – is that the neurological structure… the architecture of our brains (due to the brain’s neuroplasticity) is being altered by internet use – particularly as I suggest, by usage like Facebook, which creates an addiction cycle for the user as you will now see.

FB/JPMs: Facebook Jolts Per Minute = 100s or 1000s

Facebook-TV

Facebook is worse than Television Programming for your brain. Far worse.

Reporting back to you from a visit to my Facebook Timeline in the last minute, here is what I can report:

In just a 15-second scan down the page, I saw: A Brooks Brothers ad for 40% off. Someone inviting me to Instagram. Someone posting, “even in the seemingly chaotic manifestations of external appearances, i know everything is perfect.” A post about a school shooting. Photos of someone juicing. Audible advertisement. A PETA post. 8 Movies That Turn to Shit After 20 Minutes. Chewbacca Actor Battles TSA Over Light Saber Cane. A gal posts, “Tonight was like PMS full moon crazy night…jeez ladies, calm the hormones.” “NSA whistleblower comes forward: Edward Snowden exposes global spy grid run by government spooks.” A post with one of my friends lamenting about their breakfast, photo included.

And this doesn’t count what I did not consciously review at first: the ads: a 50% off designer glasses ad; Guitars: Top Sellers; Tired of Info Marketing?; A God Spot in the Brain?; Passion for Fitness?; Avalanche Consulting, Inc. Change Your Underwear (are those last two somehow related?).

What does this all mean? Facebook Jolts Per Minute or FB/JPMs (or even FB/JPSs) and they diminish one’s attention span significantly.

The term Jolts Per Minute is usually used to describe how many times the action changes – by sight or sound – on a given television program. Television programming is designed to cater to the shortest attention spans – and entrain short attention spans.

Part of the process of creating a television program is to ensure a certain number of JPMs to forcefully hold the viewers attention. These may be images of violence, loud emotional speech, laughter, sexual innuendo or just about any other form of emotional manipulation.

Watching Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross paint on PBS has a very low JPM level, say 5-15 JPMs. This allows a consistent stream of thought on the subject at hand – long enough to learn something new by reflecting on it.

But we have gone beyond Jolts Per Minute to Jolts Per Second (JPS). In Critical Perspectives on ADHD Thomas Armstrong writes (and this is worth reading – you will be blown away by this and its implications for Facebook, etc.):

It has come to the point where advertisers talk about “jolts per second.” One media commentator, for example, refers to: “MTV-style hyper-visuals, where anything less than a dozen jolts per second is considered boring.”

He continues:

Jolts-Per-Second
from page 35-36 in Critical Perspectives on ADHD

So, we are addicted because we have a short attention span, and we have short attention spans because we are addicted. And all of this is being used to keep you surfing the web in places like Facebook. Then they hem you in some more by giving you the tidbits you already like. You’re being addicted, and you’re being tracked and coddled to keep you addicted. Enter The Filter Bubble.

The Filter Bubble

Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, even The New York Timessites all over the internet are tracking your clicks and literally feeding your mind with stuff they think you will like. Which sounds nice if you want personal information service, right? Wrong.

All your search results are filtered, or based on your past and where you already were in your life. The friends you already have, the kind of articles or products you have already bought, etc.

In other words, you are in what author Eli Pariser calls a Filter Bubble (see his book, The Filter Bubble). Here is his TED Talk on it:

The Bubble is created by these online companies to please and coddle you with content you already like and know, so their advertising and sales will benefit by your repeated patronage. The Bubble as an embedding effect: it keeps you where you have already been, making it hard for you to continue to grow. It’s like being in a Middle-School clique of information…

How to get out of the Bubble? You actually need elements in your life outside of the Bubble that are driving your growth: people, books, courses, Life Practices, conversations… things that encourage you to continue to develop and don’t encourage you to stay steeped in your past. Then when you come back to the web, what you search for will be upgraded because you are growing. Don’t expect Google or Facebook to provide you novel info to help you grow – they are looking in your past, to your comfort zone, not your future, where you are growing. More on that at the end of this post in the What to Do Re: Your Brain and Mind section.

Self-Worth: Facebook Crushes It

Basically, Facebook is to your self worth what drinking a Big Gulp of Coca-Cola is to your blood sugar levels, both short- and long-term, as you will see. Have you experienced this? Facebook brings you up temporarily (wow, isn’t that, and that, and that, and that, and ooooh that… interesting, shocking, stupid, funny, sad, challenging, whatever), and then drops you like a stone almost every time you log out. And the longer you are on, the more self-absorbed and worthless you often feel. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Don’t think it’s happening?

Here is the research.

Take a look at this recent article, “Facebook study says “envy” rampant on the social network.”

LONDON (Reuters) – Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness, according to German researchers.

A study conducted jointly by two German universities found rampant envy on Facebook, the world’s largest social network that now has over one billion users and has produced an unprecedented platform for social comparison.

The researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters.

And the article, “Facebook study finds narcissistic users spend most time on site.”

Social networking websites keep people connected with friends, co-workers and acquaintances. But new research suggests that online profiles can also feed narcissistic tendencies and highlights a disconnect between one’s real-world personality and curated online identity.

The blog All Facebook reports the findings from a study called “Self-Presentation 2.0: Narcissism and Self-Esteem on Facebook,” which investigated 100 Facebook users’ profiles and analyzed the subjects’ real-world personality traits.

The results showed that students with comparatively lower self-esteem scores and higher narcissism scores not only spent spent more time on Facebook, but also tended to “self-promote” more than the students with higher self-esteem scores and lower narcissism scores.

Basically, the architecture of FB – and the culture it creates or encourages – leaves many of us feeling less happy with our own lives. This drives a degree of emptiness – which encourages narcissism in an attempt to raise our spirits. We post pictures of something cool we did, or try to get more “likes” or “friends.” But our blood sugar – our self esteem – keeps crashing, and the longer the Facebook Habit goes, the less attractive it is for us. We develop a dependency, just like a drug or processed junk food.

And this is why we are starting to see that…

People Don’t “Like” Facebook Anymore

Using something that you have bad feelings about is a also a drag on your self-esteem. If there was a Like Button on Facebook itself on the internet, people would be “unliking it” in droves.

From the study on Envy and FB mentioned above, the researchers concluded, “From a provider’s perspective, our findings signal that users frequently perceive Facebook as a stressful environment, which may, in the long-run, endanger platform sustainability.”

Another recent study by Pew Research has shown that young people – the most important demographic for FB, are leaving the site in droves (not visiting anymore) because they are tired of it. Here are some quotes from study participants:

Female (age 14): “OK, here’s something I want to say. I think Facebook can be fun, but also it’s drama central. On Facebook, people imply things and say things, even just by a like, that they wouldn’t say in real life.”

Male (age 18): “It’s because [Facebook] it’s where people post unnecessary pictures and they say unnecessary things, like saying he has a girlfriend, and a girl will go on and tag him in the picture like, me and him in the sun having fun. Why would you do that?”

Female (age 16): “Because I think I deleted it [my Facebook account] when I was 15, because I think it [Facebook] was just too much for me with all the gossip and all the cliques and how it was so important to be– have so many friends–I was just like it’s too stressful to have a Facebook, if that’s what it has to take to stay in contact with just a little people. It was just too strong, so I just deleted it. And I’ve been great ever since.”

For all the nice connections that can be made on Facebook, the dark side is a culture of anonymity lacking face-to-face real-world encounters, as pointed out by “Female (age 14)” above. People are more likely to say things in discussions or debates they would never say to someone’s face, making FB another place where insults – and the negative experiences they create – are more commonplace on FB than in daily life offline.

This reality has been skillfully satirized by Funny Or Die:

 

Facebook is Making Us Stupid

John Harris of the UK Guardian, writing about Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows, says Carr “looks back on such human inventions as the map, the clock and the typewriter, and how much they influenced our essential modes of thought (among the people whose writing was changed by the latter were Friedrich Nietszche and TS Eliot). By the same token, he argues that the internet’s ‘cacophony of stimuli’ and ‘crazy quilt’ of information have given rise to ‘cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning’ – in contrast to the age of the book, when intelligent humans were encouraged to be contemplative and imaginative.”

Harris continues, “But here is the really important thing. Carr claims that our burgeoning understanding of how experience rewires our brain’s circuits throughout our lives – a matter of what’s known as ‘neuroplasticity’ – seems to point in one very worrying direction. Among the most hair-raising passages in the book is this one: ‘If, knowing what we know today about the brain’s plasticity, you were to set out to invent a medium that would rewire our mental circuits as quickly and thoroughly as possible, you would probably end up designing something that looks and works a lot like the internet.’ “

In other words, are brains are being rewired by internet technology like Facebook – through unsatisfying hunting-fueled dopamine addiction, 100s or 1000s of Jolts-Per-Minute – to be impulsive and unable to hold a consistent thought stream long enough to draw new, emergent conclusions we have not come to before. New growth requires consistent attention to something, and time to gestate with it.

Facebook at its very core is not designed to facilitate deep brain/mind development – it keeps you hopping like a crack addict hunting for the next fix, over and over, hundreds of times a minute.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t think our future is very bright with FB social networking information addicts hopped up on dopamine with Attention Deficit Disorder, driven and developed by Facebook architecture.

What to Do Re: Facebook

Regarding Facebook, stop reading the feed. If you have joined Groups with particular topics, go there. At least you will be reading posts that are on a similar wavelength, hence fewer FB JPMs.

What about Twitter? Actually, The Bird is even worse if you are scanning it often. In the Brain Lady Blog, Susan Weinschenk writes, “140 characters is even more addictive – And the dopamine system is most powerfully stimulated when the information coming in is small so that it doesn’t full satisfy. A short text or twitter (can only be 140 characters!) is ideally suited to send our dopamine system raging.”

But really, stop using FB. The JPMs, jealousy, filter bubble, and feeding of narcisissm are too much. The whole gestalt of Facebook subtly – or significantly – diminishes your development and well-being.

Join the mailing lists of specific blogs and sites you like. Take part in the discussion on those topics and postings found there. They will be much more focused on things that truly interest you and will retrain your brain to stay focused on one thing longer. They are also less likely to be platforms for ridiculous grandstanding about someone’s latest meal with a local celebrity on a beach in Bali just after your true flame proposed and the three of you are going into some business venture that is going to save the world etc. etc. Not that there is anything wrong with potentially-profitable celebrity-infused Bali proposals, but the research shows many of us are not feeling better about ourselves for reading about them.

What to Do Re: Your Brain and Mind

Surfing the interwebs overmuch can make you into a dopamine junkie. Hundreds or thousands of little dopamine hits an hour, with your mind wandering – hunting - all over cyberspace like a monkey desperate for more handouts of candy at an Indian Bazaar.

So how to retrain your brain – literally rewire the neural pathways – to stay more focused? Here are some excellent suggestions for you:

Read Books. Paper books. This will get you off the computer, which is where FB and the internet encourage monkeymind. It also cancels out the TeeVee, which is Facebook’s short-attention span predecessor. You will notice with a good book you find a comfortable place to sit, the light is better, your breathing relaxes – your body and mind relax. And you immerse yourself in the contiguous thought process of one other human being who worked very hard to organize a story or line of thinking for you to consider. A few things, deeply and organized. Not hundreds or thousands of things just flying through your cranium in a heap.

A truly great book that will help you get your head around the crazy-making unhappy factory which is Facebook is a book called Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (his last name is prounounced “chick-sent-me-high). Mihaly’s decades of research has show that people report being most happy when they are in what he calls a State of Flow, or Flow State. What is a Flow State? Simultaneously being challenged to the limits of your ability in something, and totally loving it. Such as problem solving, reading a good book, rising to a challenge at work, etc. The book has loads of examples, and how you can cultivate Flow States in your daily life at will.

Hint: Facebook does not generate States of Flow… quite the opposite.

Exercise. This gets you off the computer, out of the house, and in the real world. It also moves your body – which isn’t happening while you are sitting looking at Facebook. Also, being outdoors and doing something is where most people who are busy taking care of their dopamine hits would really like to be. So live. Get outdoors and get some exercise, even if its just in your backyard.

Contemplate. Gift yourself the time to observe and reflect. Meditation – bare witnessing as taught by mystics in every major world religious tradition is excellent mind training. No matter what tradition you practice, check out The Three Pillars of Zen by Roshi Philip Kapleau for a concise guide, or The Miracle of Mindfulness by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Contemplation can also be done by zoning out in a park and watching everything go by, sitting by running water, or going for a hike in a natural environment.

Or head to the library. Something my wife, Katrina just related to me was how relaxing she finds libraries. Any time she was travelling as a younger person, all she had to do if she was feeling not-at-home or ungrounded was head to the public library.

Do Things in Your Community. Church, sports, children’s events, live music, plays, celebrations, farmer’s markets… Get out and DO. You are wasting time on Facebook. If that last sentence rings true, turn it off and get out there. Life is beautiful.

Painted Cakes Do Not Satisfy Hunger

In his world-famous book Be Here Now, ex-Harvard Professor Richard Alpert, known as Ram Dass, provided a lovely piece of visual poetry to contemplate:

For all the great things that getting together online can be, let’s admit it. Facebook is a megaheap of Painted Cakes, leaving many of us feeling more empty for looking at them. Is that your experience?

Jim Morrison sings in “An American Prayer,”

Where are the feasts we were promised?
Where is the wine,
The New Wine.
(Dying on the vine.)

Here is the video of Morrison’s “An American Prayer” for your enlightainment, it is well worth a listen:

Questions

With Facebook, are you Dying on the Vine? Eating painted cakes?

I would love to hear your thoughts. What are you going to do? What are YOU going to do?

If you thought this post was cool, check out my HyperLearning Presentation here.

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147 Responses to How Facebook (FB) is Altering Your Mind

  1. Gabriella June 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    Great article! Just shared on my FB!

    • David Rainoshek June 12, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

      For some great irony, or at least to help people on the inside :) Thank you!

      • Peter Scripture June 14, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

        I find it hard to believe that anyone can become addicted to FB, although I do know that 15 % of people become addicted to something. For me, it is an easy way to keep in touch with friends, but I pay no attention to all the other crap.

        • Gaby Hernandez June 15, 2013 at 12:33 am #

          I look at it the same way, I used to feel very much addicted to it. Now I can say I love that I can be in contact with people I haven’t seen in a long time but I also don’t care about all of the crap is said there.

          • Rose Martin August 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

            When I first found facebook I was soo thrilled to see what became of friends , schoolmates, far away family and so on..It was like having them over to your house with out having to clean your house because company is coming over…but as time passed, I remembered WHY these people were not in my life..and ended up deleting them…I use it now to promote my ebay auctions for vintage clothes..oh and to play the games…

      • jonnie dale lieberman June 14, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

        Yes, great irony, I too shall repost. I practice yoga, am reading A Pigeon and a Boy. Great read, good poetic writing with a phenomenally creative twist. I live in the outdoors. And fb can be very helpful, as in all good things, it too can be addictive. As I predominantly do all my computing on my Droid, I miss much of the advertising and feeds on the side. Thanks for your thought provoking and what seems, well researched article. I do like good blogs and the threads that I follow. Blessings and continue being brilliantly alive and promoting goodness.

    • Pat Ingram June 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

      I am elderly disabled and find facebook and also e-mail not only useful to talk to friends but I use them to fight for what I believe, i.e., sign petitions, read news updates, etc. This is, I believe, called using your cognitive surplus which is the brainpower we have left over after all the other daily jobs our brain has to do. I can’t go on demos. or provide funds, but I can sign petitions on many and varied causes.

  2. susan June 12, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Hi David,
    i have just finished reading this right the way through~ phew, what a relief, my attention span still has a bit of elastic. Such a considered, insightful and enlightening blog that makes sense of how so many young people live their lives with their heads almost being sucked in by the screen :)

    i use Facebook every day` mostly for one purpose and one reason. i live out in the boon docks a long way from people in the most beautiful place i could ever dream of~ I don’t drive so rarely see people~ Facebook has been my link with old friends from right through my life~ and sometimes a window on interesting things. It is also a dredge up of ( unquestioned ) platitudes/epithets and clever sounding bullshit that do the rounds with monotonous regularity. it is uplifting for me to talk with friends- and I also use it to counsel folk on chat box simply because it is easy. If it were not for the context of my life and these easy connections
    i think i would have bailed out a long time ago and may still do when i am no longer here.

    I have to confess, i post copious pics `sharing the beauty of here which is quite unique and rare, imo` and cringe cringe, i post pics of cats- because i am in a unique situation bordering on unsolicited cat sanctuary. i notice though that people robotically swamp me with ‘funny cat pics’` ironically as though i am a cat addict and they are kindly feeding my habit- while i am actually choosing just to care for those that have shown up here, erm, a few too many.

    Does this sound like i am defending Facebook? :) not at all- i use it for convenience but also find it mind numbingly shallow, even though i am occasionally guilty of writing in icons. Even though it is a great connector for me, i do realise it is like ‘living’ life inside a sealed membrane aka the computer screen~ and the concept of friendship, of course, is totally bogus. it is brilliantly manipulative, hijacking words that actually belong to real intimacy, which is why i have always called it Fakebook. years ago I had animated, in depth conversations and debates with people, especially known friends~ now this has become a dribble of self promoting updates, rumi rumi and rumi + and a litter of hearts rather than a reflective response using ‘real’ words…..

    great blog and thanks for it- i will be bookmarking it to re-read and fully absorb.

    • David Rainoshek June 12, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      I agree with you. I think we are all definitely going to continue connecting online – which will include all forms of digital media and sharing.

      The interesting question is going to be how we are designing our digital experience as a society to enhance human development without doing to our brains what I was writing about in the post.

      And then there are each one of us. How much of our lives do we want to offer in terms of time and postings to the online world?

      Just knowing that FB and the internet at large is having the effects I discuss in the post will go a long way to taking us out of the subjective, behind-the-eyes experience of the internet, and make it objectified. Am I unhappy? Where is my attention span? OMG, my brain is being changed here… maybe time for some reorganizing of my energies.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • susan June 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

        yes- i agree, David…..as well as this, i have long since thought ( as a calligrapher and one time teacher of handscript ) that the shift ffrom handscript to typing has also reconfigured the brain as well as the heart mind connection….all these re-arrangements have profound effects often un-noted until irreversibly integrated….a slight catch 22 really….

        • becca June 15, 2013 at 5:21 am #

          Susan, I have read how the shift from handwriting to 2 hands typing and icons/images have reconfigured our brains (or our reconfigured brains invented keyboards . . .). We are transitioning from left-brain dominance (the right hand being the only ‘right’ hand) to more dual brain usage — a much needed re-balancing. The fact that our pages are so much more interesting and visual than pure typing is also a welcome balance of the word & the image, the left & the right brains, the Masculine & the Feminine. Leonard Shlain made this point in his book, “The Alphabet vs. the Goddess”.

          • Herne July 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

            Thank you for the article – and this comment!

            Behind any form of digital media, there’s only code and binary digits. Although an Internet page does have visuals at first glance, its nature remains purely numerical (which is even more reduced than the Alphabet)… A typewritten text on a paper sheet is much more than words – irregularities of the ink and paper do add to the visual impression.
            I ignore if any digital media, which is nothing more than a linear set of binary digits can ever be suitable for genuine human (re)creation and (inter)action.
            Even the Masculine is dramatically “castrated” by the digital gorgon…

      • David Smith June 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

        Yes… “Reorganizing of my energies” Great phrase! As I digest this information I know that an important question for me….. How do I organize my energies? What “floats my boat?!”
        Yes again….Being a devoted Grampa(recent development) Exercise, Meditation, Political Activism,
        My life is full and for the most part full of joy….
        How does facebook fit in?
        I do find myself scrolling down through facebook quite a bit…. It’s a kind of discovery process…. My facebook friends. What will come up… Pictures of my grandsons, wonderful relatives, political stuff, intense San Antonio Spurs fans…..
        I will continue to reorganize my energies… thanks for the thought provoking articles!

        • David Rainoshek June 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

          Thank you for being such a devoted Grampa!!!

      • LJ July 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

        I thought this article was extremely interesting. I am currently working on my Masters in clinical psychology right now and I am doing my trainee ship in a not profit that works with clients with severe mental illnesses. One of my clients has been having me help him learn how to use a computer. As we are there to help them improve skills that will help them succeed in society, I am torn between the decisions of teaching him almost a necessary addiction. Within a week of learning how to use an email, my client wants to learn how and what twitter is? I have been hesitant to teach him. This article has made me feel better about my decision to wait on teaching him.

  3. Cici June 12, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Thank you David, I am sitting here with tears pouring down my face because your “jolt” is one of health and truth… I think that I check Facebook a lot to feel less isolated and yet I’m noticing my shorter attention span while working on writing projects of my own, reading other works and any sense of satisfaction though, is really not happening.

    I think your article is one of the very best and most thorough as well as convincing of an invitation to unplug from Facebook.

    I was just thinking today about evolving in my use of FB. I post for my business and some for family but also interact a lot and go on “liking” rampages regularly. :-)

    I’m convinced that I have work to do of the variety suggested in your article, which I do such as body movement getting outdoors and receiving newsletters. But the way I am right now, my ability to focus is much compromised so even when I do have responses to what I read, I get distracted easily. Some of that is compounded of course by my business which is open and when clients come in I get interrupted, but that definitely is not all of it.

    If the brain chemistry is looking similar to someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol (regarding the internet addiction and brain chemistry reactions) then it seems to me that a 12-step focus on the internet addiction is something I am going to work, because I have used it successfully for other addictions.

    :-)

    • The surreal McCoy June 13, 2013 at 1:03 am #

      Thanks for this, Cici.

      Fellow recovering substance abuser here. I know that seeking relief from isolation all too well, and I find myself hooked on Facebook. I read research a while ago claiming that every time we get a ‘like’, our oxytocin spikes a little. Oxytocin is the “I feel fuzzy and loved” neurotransmitter. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

      It’s also not surprising that I see many of my 12-step friends on Facebook all the time. ;-)

      I have definitely noticed my attention span going down since the advent of constant-on Internet, and mobile devices, and I notice a sense of agitation when I don’t get to the Internet on time. Primarily to check my Facebook. I am often disappointed and bored to see that most of the postings are irrelevant or depressing, and – most dramatically – that nobody responded to the brilliant blurb I posted an hour back!

      In my case, I can easily say that I have developed a Facebook addiction that has taken over major parts of my life: I spend much less time with friends, or outside in general, and the idea of stopping Facebook seems just as impossible at this point as an alcoholic facing the idea of getting sober.

      I have also noticed that the quality of my written word – the composition of sentences, the choice of words, and the overall grammatical consistency have declined. I write something, re-read it, and I notice that words are missing. And that not only in English but also in my mother tongue – English is a second language.

      Time to arrange for a month-long abstinence – after I posted this on Facebook, of course. ;-)

  4. Sandi June 12, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

    LOL…what did I want to do immediately after reading this? Post it on FB…I looked and looked for that little F button to click.

    • David Rainoshek June 12, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      LOL! Yeah, that was one of my favorite parts about posting this. I suspect there were a lot of brains that went:

      CLICK

      where do I repost or “Like” this?

  5. Gayle June 12, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    Wow!

  6. Billie June 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    I recently observed how interesting it was that my kids are now obsessed with this thing called “snap chat”. It’s so brief that the communication is a picture and quote that only lasts seconds. Now after reading your article it makes complete sense. Thank you for making me more aware so I can approach this differently now.

    • David Rainoshek June 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      Yea! Thank you for the insight! Now – what to do as a parent? It gets trickier, doesn’t it? Perhaps your kids could watch the Funny or Die video I posted in the blog, if they are old enough…

      Good luck! Thank you for being such a wise parent!

  7. Mireille Antoine June 12, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    That was a unique perspective on Facebook, and social media in general. As a new entrepreneur, I was advised to open a FB page to help publicize my business. FB and other social media forums were places I avoided like the plague.

    I appreciated the good advice to focus on just the Groups and Blogs that address real issues and not mind-numbing, time-wasting posts.

    Looking forward to the new juice feasting. The last one I did was in 2010 for 39 days!

    • David Rainoshek June 12, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

      Congratulations on your 39 Day Juice Feast! I will keep everyone posted on this latest Feast!

  8. Mary June 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Hi David,

    First of all thank you for mentioning your juice feast. It always helps inspire me to stay on my own rawness when I read these things, there’s so much bombardment the other way.

    I do not agree with most of what is written in the article. Especially the first part about the hunt being more pleasurable than the “find”. I think that this is more true of MEN, and that alot of other points were also more true of men. I can assure you that for me the find is more pleasurable. Also the study mentioned was 17 MEN. Again leaving out half or more of us.

    I do believe that most tech toys weigh in on “not worth it for the negative effect upon people and cultures”; but the internet I find tips the other waydue to the incredible ability to connect with people everywhere and find very valuable info not available on extremely biased and controlled media outlets such as tv, etc. I really think videos games have no redeeming value and instigate violence in our culture.

    As for FB, I know that anything good can become addictive; yet my ability to learn about social and political things of huge interest to me and some of my friends; plus the sharing of beauty (art, children, animals), sprituality and wisdom through quotes, videos, etc can sure enrich my day (life) and hopefully others as well.

    I can’t help but wonder who really commissioned this report. Perhaps a failing news media of stale and entitled idiots hoping to keep us in our boxes.
    No, for me the internet and FB at this point sure outweighs the other ways of getting CURRENT news and info.

    Of course I love a good book, as long as they aren’t using anymore of Mother Earth;s glorius and abused trees. And the info on new uses of hemp, etc. for books I find freely and regularly on none other than Facebook!

    • David Rainoshek June 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

      Hi Mary!

      Thank you for the post – I went back and looked at the research. It was 17 men AND women….

      And the women in my life that I have talked with, including several colleagues today, have all reported that they experience the “hunting for something new” buzz, and find themselves feeling empty after using Facebook.

      Yes, the sharing on FB can be beautiful, but it looks like FB could use a redesign so that there are not so many Facebook Jolts Per Minute when you use it.

      That all being said, the internet is the wild west, and all of us are going to need to provide input in one way or another on how this thing that has such a good news and bad news potential is shaping who we are.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful comments!

  9. Tristan June 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Walking
    BY THOMAS TRAHERNE

    To walk abroad is, not with eyes,
    But thoughts, the fields to see and prize;
    Else may the silent feet,
    Like logs of wood,
    Move up and down, and see no good
    Nor joy nor glory meet.

    Ev’n carts and wheels their place do change,
    But cannot see, though very strange
    The glory that is by;
    Dead puppets may
    Move in the bright and glorious day,
    Yet not behold the sky.

    And are not men than they more blind,
    Who having eyes yet never find
    The bliss in which they move;
    Like statues dead
    They up and down are carried
    Yet never see nor love.

    To walk is by a thought to go;
    To move in spirit to and fro;
    To mind the good we see;
    To taste the sweet;
    Observing all the things we meet
    How choice and rich they be.

    To note the beauty of the day,
    And golden fields of corn survey;
    Admire each pretty flow’r
    With its sweet smell;
    To praise their Maker, and to tell
    The marks of his great pow’r.

    To fly abroad like active bees,
    Among the hedges and the trees,
    To cull the dew that lies
    On ev’ry blade,
    From ev’ry blossom; till we lade
    Our minds, as they their thighs.

    Observe those rich and glorious things,
    The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
    The fructifying sun;
    To note from far
    The rising of each twinkling star
    For us his race to run.

    A little child these well perceives,
    Who, tumbling in green grass and leaves,
    May rich as kings be thought,
    But there’s a sight
    Which perfect manhood may delight,
    To which we shall be brought.

    While in those pleasant paths we talk,
    ’Tis that tow’rds which at last we walk;
    For we may by degrees
    Wisely proceed
    Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
    From viewing herbs and trees.

    • Grace June 22, 2013 at 4:07 am #

      I love this! So true–we often take in sights with our eyes but do not actually see the beauty, the meaning, the significance.

  10. olduglycarl June 12, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    I am relatively new to face book, I do see a little of what this article takes about, I can see some of the personalities described. I do spend time there when engaged in a specific conversation. But the group I have tried to choose has lived up to my hopes. We have traded many resources for each to integrate. For me that is what face book is about. Also a way to let my neothink counterparts to view my first book and a conversation society needs to have. I do not see any addiction here. When engaged in the creation of essence, FB is far from my mind. I have learned much from my friends as I hope they have learned from me. My emotions are generally lifted from my observations of how the majority represents humanity in a positive way. Maybe, I have assembled a unique group or perhaps your assertions are correct and I haven’t been here that long. But maybe I am not doing business with that which you have found.

  11. Jean Weiss June 12, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

    David, agree on many of your salient points
    90 % (not as much as I agree 100% with your juice feasting advice or points of view tho Haaa)…bc FB has helped me connect to others of like-mindedness all over this globe and I truly cherish that aspect…I have learned so much and vice versa…it has also enabled me to come out of mourning over my 27-yr marriage w my hubby 3 years ago…it has given me an outlet to be an activist and show my 4 grandchildren I stood up for my beliefs and the protection of others’ rights …it gives me exposure to humor whether it is receiving it or sharing it …it has broadened my intelligence as well as enlightened me; enabled me to be of service;
    gave me a platform to support others’ entrepreneurial spirit financially or emotionally as well as be a shoulder for some going thru serious life-threatening illnesses…it makes my day when I can laugh and exchange respect for others and receive it…I enjoy the adages, poetry, photography and spirit of oneness

    It also has shown me not to live it 24/7, get into too many endless debates or believe everything I read…some are Debbie Downers, some are conspiracy theorists ad nauseum, some are doom and gloomers…

    Balance is the key in life
    Judgment is rampant

    I unplug more & more as needed and strive
    for a life well lived, shared w joy and openness!

    It is an avenue for connectedness yet not and end all panecea for sure and needs to become not an addiction I believe we all can agree!

    For the most part since I’m retired I have some time to devote to its charms yet know in my heart it is not the answer for everyone nor for me either … It is only one aspect of how I connect share and entertain myself

    Lately with all the negativity in our world it does soothe the soul more than it detracts from it -
    If it ever got to be such a toxic crack face I know how to detox and rejuvenate my mind and possibly TAP w EFT to release its hold
    ROTFL

    thanks for a gr8 read tho and look forward to seeing you on your juice feasting site – I send ppl to it endlessly w confidence they are in good hands

    ~ AHO ~

    • Shane July 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      I feel informed and enlightened by reading this blog, which also ironically, I was alerted to by a friend on FB. I think it is important to understand the way that it is rewiring our brain and changing our attention span, as well as the potential for addiction. But that is only half the story of how Facebook has changed our lives. Facebook connects us with others in ways that add great value to our lives as well, which is also a big part of why we use it. If I am seeking knowledge, I can quickly access the minds of 500 people to seek an answer. If I am traveling to a new destination, I can quickly figure out who I know who is also there who can show me around the city. I read thought-provoking articles such as this one that I would likely not come across otherwise. I am able to sustain real emotional connections with people who I would otherwise not be able to due to geographical constraints. I could go on and on of course… Comparing FB to tee-vee is useful to the point that we are using FB to passively absorb a stream of stimulating pictures and words for the sake of entertainment, or as you put it, a dopamine rush. But the usefulness of the comparison stops where we start using FB to create value by making and sustaining connections with others and to acquire knowledge. Yes, we should be aware of how FB can turn us into addicted mind-jolt seeking zombies, but let us also know that is not the totality of the experience and the sharing it enables also enhances the quality of our life in ways that go beyond the transient dopamine rush.

  12. Tonya June 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Good article David. I don’t have tv at home and find facebook the quickest way to get the scoop on alternative news and health. And I do find that I get sucked in from time to time with it. It’s kinda of a condensed version of all things you are interested in when you have thousand of people that are like minded. I have been researching on how to become more private on the internet with all the recent information circulating on our privacy. A non windows/apple operating system, hiding ISP’s and not utilizing our names and identity with emails, etc. And i do believe FB is definitely a new way of monitoring us “drones.” Thanks for the alternatives and insights.

  13. Joanna June 13, 2013 at 12:24 am #

    Thank you, David! This article is, IMHO, THE article of the year, and so worth reading!

    In the situation you described, I found uncanny similarity to my own, and many of my loved ones, life-affair with FB.
    Although I only go there to post/share something I personally find of merit and excellence, I have to agree – the more I stick around in FB, the dumber I feel. I do not pay attention to feeds or ads, yet, if I’m there for more than just a quick post, or reply to the comments, I feel somewhat emptier than before I stopped by.

    Our lives became so busy, rushed, go go go, that anything that requires a pause for a conscious thought is frowned upon and to be avoided. We are expected to perform at the speed of light, and we get all the “help” from various ad creators and, in time, get so hooked on what they offer. We look for instant access to instant gratification. We want it now, and we “think” we don’t have time to read about it, research it in any way, draw own conclusions, or form own opinions. “They” know it, and exploit it.

    It is true that the thrill of the hunt (in my case: online shopping and hunting for “deals”) is a bigger high than that of actually getting the goods and, for me, the high almost always ends after clicking on “Submit order” button… I am working on it. No kidding. I have actually stopped “cold turkey” and… don’t even miss it all that much! And have more time to do stuff that matters. AND my self-esteem seems to be recovering nicely, too.

    I did look for the “share on FB” button… Found none, so just copy-pasted the link. It HAD to be shared!
    I also shared this with my husband – a hardcore gamer who could spend all his waking moments gaming; he is also a net writer for NYT/About, so your article might (I hope it does!) find an even larger reader base.

    Best regards, and looking forward to more of your excellent writing!
    JG

    • David Rainoshek June 13, 2013 at 3:11 am #

      Thank you, Joanna! I am so glad the post connected for you!

      If your husband would like to contact me regarding anything for the NYT, please have him contact me – I would be happy to meet with him over Skype.

      (he can reach me through the “Contact” link on this site)

      I look forward to more of your excellent commentary! More posts are on their way. Enjoy your week!

  14. JC June 13, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    Hi David, I red your article with great interest. I confirmed intuitions, little voices that were becoming louder. It made me realize that it probalby had a bigger impact on my life and the decisions I made in the past couple years. I can say I was addicted. After reading the results of your research, I am more aware so I can make better choices. There is so many subtles ways to capture our attention and distract us our being. This is awesome and thanks for sharing .
    Happy Juice Feasting, JC

    • David Rainoshek June 13, 2013 at 3:13 am #

      Yes, it is interesting now that we have all be online for a while to take a step back and see how it is shaping us, and then redirect where appropriate.

      I think the internet is a great technology for good – but we will need to keep reshaping it, and ourselves, to make it so.

      Thanks for the Juice Feasting wishes!

  15. Myrna Rettegi June 13, 2013 at 2:39 am #

    Hi,
    Just finished reading your message about Facebook. You have just made
    my day!!

    I looked at Facebook or Fakebook as one of your readers wrote as I scanned
    down to see a few comments, and i am sooooo happy that something inside
    of me has always nudged me not to be involved!! It always made me feel a little guilty that I did not enter into the constant invitations to be a friend, or
    see what so and so is doing etc. If I were their friends they could pick up the
    telephone and say, “hello, I’ve missed you, what have you been doing?” Or
    maybe even pick up a pen and write me a note. What ever happened to
    that?

    Fakebook can be, from what you have said, and the comments I have read, compared to the once a year Christmas card one gets from someone with photos of the kids and comments about how successful they all are. And the vacations they have been on, ad nauseam. The commercial card depictting santa or a snowman, does not represent the Birth of the Christ
    child and or the reason for the season. And of course It is really not that they are interested at this particular time to find out how your long lost friend is getting along or the importance of the reason for the season which is that a Savior of the world was born for the salvation of souls to whomever believes in God.

    So to all of you God bless you and we thank you David for enlightening all
    of us about Facebook ;)

    • David Rainoshek June 13, 2013 at 3:18 am #

      Thank you for the connections to Christmas. Well said! We have done so much in terms of *span*… lots of stuff, fluff, and not much *depth*

      It will be a major characteristic of my writing, this look at how we can cultivate true depth in our lives, and while FB can be good for posting something of depth, it appears the residual effect is often shallowness or emptiness.

      Great to see you here. Thank you for your insights!

  16. Alivia June 13, 2013 at 3:12 am #

    Welcome Back David! So awesome to see you sharing your brilliance with the world again..Looking forward to feasting with you again I completed your original video led feasts 2008-9 both a 60 and 92 day feasts. You would broadcast from patagonia with your lovely wife:)

  17. Hari Rai June 13, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    You’re timing is perfect. And — thank you for the awesome research. My husband and I are on day 12 of a 40 day no Facebook ‘living meditation.’ It’s amazing how fast I am done with the computer — when I’m not using Facebook, which allows for time to do the things that I enjoy most. Like so many meditations that start with 40 days, I am already ready to extend the time; indefinitely.

  18. Aaron Lennon Ross June 13, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    Hi David, this is a really great piece. The aspect that I find particularly interesting is how addictive Facebook is. I tend to think of addictions as
    the actions of our lives that take much more from us than they give – Facebook definitely has this capability. It’s also an invisible addiction to many because it has become such a constant in people’s lives. I didn’t
    fully realise that I had any dependence on it until I experimented with a
    Facebook fast. I suddenly had lots of time and energy that was mostly
    being wasted on Facebook. Having taken time away from Facebook,
    I’m now finding a balance which incorporates things that you mentioned
    like joining facebook groups or creating various lists. For example, I have
    created lists such as ‘Artists/designers’, ‘Film/ Actors’ ‘Raw Food’ or ‘Close Friends’. It’s helps to focus my interest on any given day.

    I also think it’s interesting to notice that one of the reasons that Facebook is
    so addictive is the LIKE button. Byron Katie once said this:

    If I had a prayer, it would be this: “God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen.”

    So many of us are using Facebook as a means of finding this “love, approval or appreciation” that we have been unable to provide for ourselves. Can you imagine a Facebook without the LIKE button?
    It would such a different (and smaller) animal.

    • David Rainoshek June 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

      Hi Aaron! Great to see you here! The Facebook fast is something I have heard about people doing with great success.

      I love the quote from Byron Katie, and thinking about FB without a “Like” button. The whole environment is a breeding ground for latent narcissistic tendencies, isn’t it?

      It seems like those of us who are beyond our developmental years can figure out how to see FB for what it is, and emphasize the positive.

      But what to do about young people 10-25 years of age, who can’t objectively view the technology yet? It looks like the designers of such social networking platforms have some thinking to do on how we are developing young minds in the wild west of the interwebs.

      Again, great to see you here! We always cherish the original art that you gifted us.

      • Aaron June 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

        Absolutely, it seems that the FB interface is essentially designed to keep
        the viewers as distracted and reactive as possible. You are constantly being prompted to react to what is being presented to you (like this post, like this page, comment here,click this link etc..) There is also such a vast amount of information being presented simultaneously, that people’s attention is very short lived and very scattered.

        It’s a really important point that you make about people who have been raised on
        platforms like Facebook. I am lucky to be be just old enough to remember life
        before FB, so When I find myself getting out of balance with the FB/The internet,
        I can remind myself of all the years spent drawing,listening to music,talking with
        friends (in person!) or being outside. I have a centre of gravity to return to.
        For many younger people, they have not experienced other ways of being and their ability to really relax or be creative has been highly stunted. Their time (and minds) are filled with the ceaseless clutter that makes up the internet.

        On a lighter note, here’s a few cartoons i did about Facebook a while back!

        http://tinylittlegods.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/photo.jpg

        and

        http://tinylittlegods.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/photo11.jpg

  19. Lynda Hartley June 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    Excellent article.
    Facebook is a tool like any other.
    Take a wonderful sharp knife and cut up health giving vegetables or loose your temper and kill some with it? Your choice.
    Television? Watch the news and crap programming or play educational DVD’s or stream them from the internet?
    Back when VCR players hit the market, people who owned one were accused of watching porn!
    So social media is just a tool.You can share posts that raise awareness and uplift people or you can use it as a mind-numbing drug.
    Be conscious of how you use it and it will serve you well.

    Thank you, David. I Vote your Victory!

  20. Dan June 13, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Addicted, yes. Just removed the Facebook App from my phone and removed Facebook from my bookmark toolbar. At least now I’ll have to make a conscious decision to type in the url instead of an automatic reaction to simply and quickly push the Facebook button on my toolbar.

    Thanks for the great article. You made so many good points.

    As a business owner, my challenge will be to find a balance between using it for business lead generation without getting sucked into the addictive aspect of it all.

  21. Vi June 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    There is another aspect of FB- actually sharing something good, inspiring people and making them think. I woke up many of my friends on issues like GMOs, animal cruelty, benefits of vegan diet,e.t.c. And several people told me they changed their diet and points of view on certain subjects thanks to my posts.

    But I agree with all the negative aspects of FB that you point out in your article. That’s why I limited its use strictly to once a week only. I made a separate lists on the subjects that interest me, as well as for people I want to keep in touch with, and only check those. I think if used consciously, without allowing yourself to get addicted, it can be a good tool to spread the good in the world, so to say :)

  22. Chryssula Kokossulis June 13, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Hi there David,

    just wanted to congratulate you on a great and very insightful article. There are some things I already knew about without knowing them for a fact. The thing about the self-esteem being crushed, and the way we interact gets more and more meddled with through the Jolts per minute/jolts per second addiction – cycle. It is super interesting. And yes, I will rather look into the mentioned books than spending my time on Facebook feeling more and more addicted without ever having the feeling to be satisfied.

    Thanks again. I would like to re-blog your article on my blog… that is if you don’t mind?

    Kind regards
    Chrys

    • David Rainoshek June 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      You are welcome to post a link to my blog on your blog. Anything you re-post should provide full credit to myself, top and bottom of the reposting, with links back to this post!

      Thank you! So glad you enjoyed the post! Much more to come!

      David

  23. Louis June 13, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    Take some and leave some is a good attitude in general, with FB and this article as well. The ADHD part is real, and the re-wiring of our brain sure is scary.

    FB CAN be extremely useful if used correctly, remember the Egyptian revolution!?
    Same goes for the internet, the internet was invented as a mean of control by the military but got out of hands and is now used for liberating people (they are trying very hard to change that back).
    FB CAN be use for the same purpose, if only we can be smart enough to stop spending our time gossiping or showing off to boost our egos, we could use it to its full potential.

    • David Rainoshek June 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      I agree. Facebook – and the culture on FB – is an interesting look at the *interiors* of everyone using it. So obviously, if there is a culture of narcissism on FB, it is not just the fault of the technology, but everyone using it.

      Also, I agree that there is so much great potential with social networking. We are all going to have to look at the architecture of it, though. The newsfeed as it stands on FB is a FB/JPM reality that is hard on the very minds that want to benefit from the technology.

      Thanks for your comments! See you again for more great conversation!

  24. A J Tor June 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    HELP Iam hooked… How can I get of F.B. It is running my LIFE! my husband need my help… and I can’t give it to him as Iam forever on theC.P. This is not a joke .. I want to know how to get off.. Other wise I may just take a hammer to it.. help

  25. Steve M June 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    One of the more infuriating things about my ex-wife (and there were many) was I noticed that she would pick fights with me while on Facebook. Once I figured out the ‘what’, I was quickly able to figure out the ‘why’: She would look at 200 ‘friends’ all doing something at the same time and then get angry with me because we weren’t ‘doing’ something. Seemingly all hours of the day, someone was having a cookout, someone was shopping, someone was being romanced by their partner, et. al..

    I tried explaining to her that a total disconnect was taking place in her mind, that due to the sheer number of people that she had in her feed that invariably several of those people would be doing SOMETHING (!) and that there were certainly scores of people on her friend list that were sitting home watching what everyone else in their feed as well.

    There is a real confusion between Facebook and real life in sooooo many people that I know. Even getting together with other people in social situations, topics tend to revert back to Facebook (‘Did you see such-and-such’s post on Facebook?) and the dramas of Facebook often creep into everyday social circles.

    One of the key points you’ve hit on is the youth moving away from Facebook. My 15-yr old daughter deleted her account almost a year ago. She told me that there’s simply too much drama and ‘crap’ on Facebook and that she’d just rather hang out with her friends or text the one’s she specifically wants to speak with.

    Can’t argue with this article at all, but I think it’s preaching to the choir. I like Facebook, I know it’s inherent dangers and I use in moderation. I think anyone who’s going to read this article in it’s entirety is a little more self-aware that the average FB user, but I admire taking the time to cry out in the forest.

    Well presented. Thank you.

  26. Friend June 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    I find this article to be interesting and true for the most part. I do find myself checking to see if people “liked” my comments or what they said and of course I get that warm and fuzzy feeling. Same goes for dating sites, checking every so often for messages. I do also understand how it can create short attention spans. But I also offer a different point of view here: Narcissism may be considered bad to be, but I think it depends on the timing and circumstances. Some people are born to be stars and they shine brighter when they get attention. They need to be narcissistic in order to be great and to really shine. That is their personality and without that confidence that is created by recognizing one’s talent and abilities and patting themselves on the back (and getting pats from others) about it, they wouldn’t develop the courage to go out and be that actor, singer, speaker, etc. They need to think highly of themselves..it may just be what is required for them to survive financially (and psychically) doing what they were put here to do. Those who were not born during the week of that star or another week in which they need to shine brightly, are probably the ones who don’t understand this and thus think it is bad to “think highly of yourself”. I experienced this first hand as I was born during the week of the star and had an internet “boyfriend” that thought I was conceded after he boosted me up about my singing ability but then once I got the confidence he put me down and called me conceded. Once he started putting me down for being “narcissistic”, my whole confidence level shriveled up and I quickly withdrew due to lack of confidence and other people’s opinions of it being a bad thing to be “self-absorbed”. If he and others would have continued to boost my confidence, I might have the chance to become a singer but now, it may not happen. Personally, I would have never made it thus far, had I not been able to see my qualities and boost them up. Also, during the teenage years this is critical for developing a healthy self-esteem. But anyway, I do think Nature works this way. Why are you in the field you are in? Because you like it. So it gives you this “jolt” when you read articles about this subject or that subject or when you are involved with people who like that same subject. If we didn’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling and the dopamine chemical reaction, when we are around certain people, we probably wouldn’t be able to get married and build communities..cause after all, we marry people who give us that warm and fuzzy feeling..or jolt.

  27. annwen June 13, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Hi… I’m Annwen and I’m a FB addict.
    There is a Pink Floyd song which this whole topic recently reminded me of, which I have now posted the lyrics of on my desktop to TRY to ween myself off going onto FB as soon as I open the computer. Unsuccessfully… this is bad. Cold Turkey? I am scared as any junkie… but… but…things will HAPPEN and i won’t KNOW and I’ll be out of the LOOP…. BIg FOMO (fear of missing out), I see.

    Time
    Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
    You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
    Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
    Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

    Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
    You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
    And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
    No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

    So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
    Racing around to come up behind you again.
    The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
    Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

    Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
    Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
    Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
    The time is gone, the song is over,
    Thought I’d something more to say.

  28. Tijmen June 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

    Thanks David.

    The “bubble” has become more and more obvious to me, thanks for pointing that out.

    I do think that attention training is really important to counter this. Raising the strength of the pre-frontal cortex to be present enough to notice distraction, and to then choose to remain focused on the task we decided to do.

    Excellent interview on this topic (here we go, another seek reward ;) :
    http://beyondawakeningseries.com/blog/archive/
    it’s the one with Daniel P. Brown, “The Path to Everything Good”

  29. Gary M Dean June 14, 2013 at 2:32 am #

    ‘If you walk to an amazing park to buy drugs, the park is not blame.’ … I have learnt much from my time on Face Book … Much to do with politics, war, religion, and more importantly, people, and how people think. I too have found much more a grounded truth here. Whereas most national newspapers will only print headlines for corporate benefit and often bypass the reasons and complete truth of high profile political agendas etc etc. >>>

    There is a lot of hidden pain going on in the world that predominantly for greater good of its regional politics and business, was more often hidden from sight and newspaper print in order to aid greater, the corporate political agenda. But Face Book has allowed us more by sharing, more awareness and more truth of angst outside the fairytale stories that local gossip and local news outlets from corporate benefit would allow us to see. >>>

    Plus! … There are some wonderful places upon this planet I have not yet had the privilege to visit which I have been made aware from time here on Face Book. Religion and those who choose a certain faith too, I have gained so much more knowledge from time on Face Book. Art too is another wonderful benefit I have gained from my time there. There are some amazing art pieces and architectural designs around the world which I would not have known to exist from time away from Face Book. Also, many wonderful artists today doing some amazing work which Face Book has allowed me to realise, exist. >>>

    I guess it all depends upon your reason and value of self time which creates Face Book a monster and not the wonderful tool IT CAN BE. Try making a schedule and choose the hours in which to use Face Book. Try when you are there, to escape the mundane BS that your daily life is only to do same whilst upon Face Book. Try using it like the new age encyclopedia it is, and learn what the world is actually doing instead of posting pictures of your dinner or any of that trivial stuff you can share during your time away from Face Book. It’s your addiction, It’s your decision … If you cannot find the good from something many whom suffer have gained, look at yourself for answers…. Don’t blame the gun for shooting you in the foot. … Peace!

  30. Gary M Dean June 14, 2013 at 2:44 am #

    ‘If one walks to an amazing park to buy drugs, the park is not to blame.’ … I have learnt much from my time on facebook … Much to do with politics, war, religion, and more importantly, people, and how people think. I too have found much more a grounded truth here. Whereas most national newspapers will only print headlines for corporate benefit and often bypass the reasons and complete truth of high profile political agendas etc etc. >>>

    There is a lot of hidden pain going on in the world that predominantly for greater good of its regional politics and business, was more often hidden from sight and newspaper print in order to aid greater, the corporate political agenda. But facebook has allowed us more by sharing, more awareness and more truth of angst outside the fairytale stories that local gossip and local news outlets from corporate benefit would allow us to see. >>>

    Plus! … There are some wonderful places upon this planet I have not yet had the privilege to visit which I have been made aware from time here on facebook. Religion and those who choose a certain faith too, I have gained so much more knowledge from time on here. Art too is another wonderful benefit I have gained from my time there. There are some amazing art pieces and architectural designs around the world which I would not have known to exist from time away from facebook. Also, many wonderful artists today doing some amazing work which facebook has allowed me to realise, exist. >>>

    I guess it all depends upon our reason and value of self time which creates facebook a monster and not the wonderful tool IT CAN BE. Try making a schedule and choose the hours in which to use it. Try when we are there, to escape the mundane BS that our daily lives MAY be, only to do and share same whilst upon facebook. We more should perhaps try using it like the new age encyclopedia it is, and learn what the world is actually doing instead of posting pictures of our dinner or any of that trivial stuff we can share during our time away from facebook. It’s our addiction, It’s our decision … If we cannot find the good from something many whom suffer have gained, perhaps we need look at ourselves more, for the answers…. I don’t blame the gun for shooting me in the foot. … (just my spin) ;)

  31. Gary M Dean June 14, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    Sorry folks, no room or time for edit. Anyway! gist is plain. ;) Cheers!

  32. karen June 14, 2013 at 5:34 am #

    I wonder if I can get through this whole long article? I need a cookie!

  33. Sooper8 June 14, 2013 at 5:40 am #

    Great piece!
    I don’t use FB and never have, but what you say applies to the new social medias and the the Internet in general.
    Spot on!
    Thanks

  34. Jennifer Rodriguez June 14, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Whoa! Facebook, like anything else is just a tool, and let’s not get overly intellectual, mental, logical, and extreme about our FB bashing. Facebook was never created to do anything “bad” to us. It just meant to be as a way to stay connected and keep in touch easily with family and friends that, left to our own devices, we would never stay connected to. That Facebook has become “corrupted” by its users – that’s more of a symptom of the condition of the human race. That’s what happened to TV and sadly, it’s what’s happening to FB. You don’t mention this anywhere in your article but there was a time when TV programming was actually quality and beneficial and made people think but that disappeared as ad execs put pressure on networks to show more “happy brain candy” stuff and that’s what we have today. I, for one, live overseas and miss my family in the States very much. Facebook allows me to stay connected to them on a daily basis and especially to family I have in other states that, even if I lived in the States, I would still not be able to see at all. I’m really grateful for Facebook because without it, I wouldn’t be able to connect with my family at all since I live so far away from them now. So why not just go back to the roots of what FB was really meant for – to keep in touch with family and REAL friends easily? Just don’t participate in all the other corruption of Facebook – that’s it! Enough of the bashing! Facebook is not evil! That others make it so, is really THEIR problem.

    • Annie June 18, 2013 at 1:59 am #

      I don’t think it is about bashing, but it IS about psychology. Everything in advertising and design is inherently related to psychology because it is the only way to sell anything. Knowing what people want or what they could want if you presented it in the right way – and what that way is, and implementing it, IS psychology and it IS used in Facebook. It isn’t more evil than any other form of communication that wants to make you buy things, because it has to survive somehow and advertising is the way to do it. But hey – if you think psychologist and programmer billionaire Mark Zuckerberg seriously built and is maintaining the largest and most populated network in the world just to make everybody happier by helping them communicate out of the goodness of his heart, go for it.

      This is like the ridiculous “people kill people” argument. Yes, people kill people and we were all probably going to be dissatisfied with our lives and feel sad and empty at some point, but just like it’s harder to stab 100 people to death than to shoot them, it’s far easier to reach that very point multiple times a week by staying glued to media like Facebook that insists on showcasing all the great lives everybody but oneself seems to have. Kudos to you if you’re immune to it, but a lot of people are not that lucky.

  35. Rui Miguel June 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Great work. Thank you.
    Just posting it in the Bazaar…

  36. Sabine June 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading your article. It is strange how the paradox of this, is that I am shown many pathways into information that enriches and enlarges my life through the medium of Facebook. Such as this article. I also shared it on Facebook.

    Speaking of the community work for the church you mention, I actually just “liked” a nearby church that has need for some stuff and I am now thinking and collaborating how to bring stuff there.

    Also I spend so much time on the internet, as an academic writing at the moment, I take the time often to procrastinate and surf the web mainly through my Facebook feed. I devour all kinds of articles that pop up there on Pages and Groups that I like. So I do find a way to deepen the knowledge but at the same time this computer-centered lifestyle is diminishing the real Life experiences I could be having at the moment. Most of the events I go to are notified to me through messages by people through Facebook as well..

    It’s an addiction and I loved the way you write in a way that brings forth this re-connection with the body as well.. I continue to have a love hate relationship with Facebook, for I use to be an activist and bring attention to issues that need attention IMHO, but then I am not sure how much really gets read or digested by the people who browse their feed and then a link pops up from me. Also the social anxiety you describe is very accurate.

    Getting out of the loophole, going into life, bringing new projects to creation – Facebook both stimulates this and holds this back.

    I’ll check out that book on Flow, it sounds very interesting. I hope to find harmony with this medium and stop the devolution of mankind. With neural plasticity and ADHD rising, where and how we send and keep our attention is crucial.

    Kind regards

  37. Joy Hughes June 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    I find that Facebook has helped me stay in touch with people I would have otherwise lost track of, and can bemused for wonderful, beautiful, connecting kind of things, creating meetings in the real world that would not have happened without it.

    I have also found it can be quite addictive, perhaps because of the above. It seems there are ways to use it that can be more beneficial – being interactive with others! There are ways to use it that are less beneficial – just consuming information, but for most people this has just replaced TV hour-for-hour. The real world is better than either FB as consumption or TV, but Internet for human connection can enrich real life.

  38. Joanne June 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Yes! Pick up an instrument. Slide, stumble, sashay from audience to creator. Yes. PIck up a paintbrush. Let color speak through you. Yes. PIck up a pen. Write longhand; watch words flow from the tip of your instrument. It’s fundamentally different than typing. Yes. Dance with other people. Yes. Ride your bike. Walk. Go slow enough to notice the pace of the natural world.

    Love that I found you on FB ;^) Life is one big, hot, messy paradox.

  39. John Doe June 16, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Everything you do or experience is rewiring your brain. Should you refrain from all action because of this? Not exactly. They printing press rewired our brains, too, but I don’t hear too many people complaining about Shakespeare or the widespread availability of Bibles. It is equally likely that our collective brains will *benefit* from this latest rewiring; you have no way of knowing. Yet you rail in fear against allowing it to happen. This same sentiment was expressed widely by people of Gutenburg’s day.
    In any case, the thrust of your post is entirely wrong; neither FB nor the Internet have decreased anyone’s attention span; in fact, my experience tells me the internet may have saved us from the thing that actually DOES destroy cognitive capability: television. All of the changes in modern behavior you talk about here are actually traceable to television’s influence.
    The only thing that the internet has done is to enable millions of people to express their half-formed and ill-conceived thoughts on subjects they haven’t even an amateur’s familiarity with. People have always been this stupid (perhaps even more so); we just weren’t so directly exposed to it in the past. Nowadays, anybody who can type feels free to expose their lack of critical thinking ability and their self-satisfied and smugly self-confirmed misunderstandings of subjects well above their level of knowledge or cognitive capability.
    Like, theories on changing brain structure, for instance.

    • Vincent July 26, 2013 at 9:55 am #

      Buddy, you just hit the proverbial nail on the head!
      I like the article but I detest people who spread fear and that’s exactly what David is doing here.
      Still, FB went down hill lately and some interesting points were raised. I learnt some more today.

  40. Daynia June 17, 2013 at 7:28 am #

    My experience with Facebook has some of the elements mentioned (time sucking) however there are some benefits not considered when only focussing on the negative.
    A few of the positives I have recognised:

    I save time by typing up my news in synopsis and do not have to explain it to multiple friends/family next time we meet they’re already ‘caught up.’

    I have felt incredibly supported by my FB friends in general during life’s challenges and more specifically when doing IVF through a support group.

    I have been able to test mindfulness concepts and spread positivity through my posts. Feedback confirms that my joyful approach is having a benefit in peoples lives.

    I have been able to send personalised Birthday greetings where-as if having to mail or individually email I wouldn’t have time/money to send as many personalised thoughts.

    I can share instantly about my free Laughter Yoga sessions and invite people, my friends also share the invite on their walls to let their friends know.

    My African Dance group was able to co-ordinate a Flash Mob and share practice videos through face book so that people who could not attend practices could rehearse at home then joined us on the day performing in the mall.

    I do not feel the envy effect, maybe I’m rare but I feel genuinely happy for my friends and share in their adventures, travelling the world or having a new baby. In fact many of the posts are very inspiring.

    You do realise the brain is wired for loss aversion/ negative bias? The assessment of Face Book in this article is showing symptoms of this bias.

    • anonymous July 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

      absolutely wonderful response—you posted exactly what i was thinking re: this article and facebook :)

  41. Sujatha Ramakrishna, M.D. June 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    As a pediatric psychiatrist, I completely agree with this article! Well done.
    It’s good to know that younger folks are tuning out, even though I still see way too many of them constantly staring into their smartphones.

  42. Bob June 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Love it for many reasons — largely related to money and the weather — but my Middle American community is full of hard-working, indifferently-educated people who know little about the world and don’t really care. I’m not above engaging with this community, as advised above. But there’s far more to me than this.

    Facebook has allowed me to nourish it. This way I know people all over the world both horizontally (in distant places) and vertically (in other stations of life, sometime dramatically different that my own). I’ve met many of the people I know this way in real life.

    Thanks to Facebook, long-time close friends all over the world can keep in contact with everything from in-depth heart-to-heart conversation (which could happen without FB if you stayed in touch alla these years in the first place which many people did not do pre-FB) to updates on jobs, family, trips, concerts, food and so on that you can take up, merely acknowledge, or ignore. You can even jump into these dialogues among people you don’t really know, and if that’s not the essence of an urban experience I don’t know what is.

    Sure it’s possible to waste a lot of time doing this, and FB as a business proposition has made number of plays over the last few years that seem to get in the way of the kind of experience it is in a good position to offer.

    But it’s wishful thinking or, more likely, the sign of a certain fairly insular life experience where you already live in your community of choice that tells you these things are illusions or you can get them in other ways.

    Besides, as a fifty-something guy I’ve actually gotten laid this way a few times in a casual, friendly manner that’s doesn’t happen if you’re actually looking for it, especially online. Yes, this is worth it.

  43. Island Gal June 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Wonderfully insightful and inspiring piece that I found posted by an actual, real, known-to-me friend, on Facebook this morning. Now THIS is ironic!
    Just recently, I have seriously been considering the time I use up on Facebook and what I would usually be doing otherwise:
    reading, out walking on forest trails, yoga and meditation, getting report cards written, making phone calls to friends and family who live afar, practicing my fiddle and ukelele, singing, housework, finishing paperwork/projects…. basically enjoying life without Facebook.
    I have had periods of lucidity where I was inspired to just check my Facebook Groups for photography, family, buy-sell-trade, watercolour painting, for the community where I used to live, and more recently there are now various local community bulletin boards and events pages. I’m feeling that this IS the way to use Facebook and I’m thankful for THIS reminder. //oo\\
    Just this week, I was struck that I have less patience for doing my morning yoga and a meditation practice I was learning for the last couple of years and this has become a concern for me since I choose these alternatives to suggested anxiety and/or situational depression pharmeceuticals. Admittedly I “use” Facebook and this article, so succinctly put together, is impacting my neural awareness to reclaim the pursuits in my life that I enjoy and that increase my enjoyment for life, love, and the pursuit of happiness rather than the dopamine seeking “high”.
    With compassionate gratitude,
    Island Gal

  44. steve June 17, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    This is a great article. Reinforcing with actual data what I’ve been trying to put eloquently for years. You did the hard part. Awesome work! Thanks!

  45. michiko sasaki June 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Not only is this artlicle extremely to be true and interesting, but within this past year, I started to notice a huge change within me about why I was feeling about what I was feeling after I got off Facebook. I would check my FB twice a day, but not a really big poster because I was never a fan about all the responses people make. Because of this, I started to ponder why the whole social media world is all about themselves and what this was all about. I came to a conclusion that the “general” people are all craving for attention, some sort of validity to their work, careers, kids, decisions, vacays, etc. Therefore, it is the core of insecurity, low self-confidence, and self esteem. Although they may seem in person they’ve got it all together and confident, there is no good in all the “hoopla” of how many likes and respondes they get. The motive behind all of this is, “wow, now everyone knows what Ive been up to and hope they are all jealous.” (of course internally). By all means, I am not a psychologist but I am good at knowing why people do or think the way that they do.
    Ive also realized that the more “successful” people are never on FB because they are busy “doing” and being productive whaich makes them a success. We should be focused on the doing and on our own path to success and not focused on other peoples lives, remarks and being self consumed in promoting yourself on FB or twitter. Anyway, When I saw this article this morning, Im not gonna lie but it validified my belief on FB and not doubt that I was wrong to think that this is very true. So piece of advice, if you want to be the “general human being” all consumed in todays way of thinking then go ahead keep doing this, but if you are bound to be a better, of value, extraordinary human being, then make a change today and create things to do everyday!!
    Thank you everyone for your great feedbacks and for this article!! BRILLIANT!

  46. marianne June 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    This is a very interesting article ( I found it on FB), full of informations and common sense. Besides I am an old woman, and lived a long time without FB, Internet, and even TV.
    I 100% agree with this “gets you off the computer, out of the house, and in the real world. It also moves your body – which isn’t happening while you are sitting looking at Facebook. Also, being outdoors and doing something is where most people who are busy taking care of their dopamine hits would really like to be. So live.”
    BUT I must say that, in a very difficult period of my life, where there was no more hope, no more energy, no more life, I tried FB and found there
    1/ the opportunity to improve some foreign languages I knew not very well, with usually nice people
    2/ discovered a lot of wonderful photos of nature(animals, landscapes, astronomy…) along with interesting scientific facts I would not have discovered by myself (would not have thought to search for them)
    3/ find a way out of my depression, dishearted life, with help of people from various backgrounds
    After three years of intensive use, I stopped a lot and go there less and less.
    So to say, FB has been a savior to me, when no one and nothing else did.

  47. Lucy June 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm #

    Social media is such a mixed blessing, but the rewiring of our brains began a long time before. For the last 100 years or so, we’ve been conditioned to expect a steady stream of mass media, focus grouped to appeal, but above all a one way consumption process. We have become used to measuring and shaping who we are against these norms. Now the broadcasting is in both directions, we are being presented with a hall of mirrors, we don’t know which way to look.

    In theory, we are the media, we create content and can choose when and where we want to watch it.

    The problem is, we’re in transition, and have not yet found our footing, set our own norms. Social media is SO new, and the novelty has not worn off yet. Will it? Who knows?

    Until we work out who we are, as individuals, we do risk losing our focus, and forgetting how free we are now.

    p.s.how funny, I just took Be Here Now off the shelf today for the first time in years. Ram Dass, you continue to remind us to slow down, and to just let the noise wash over us.

  48. Ari K June 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    How ironic that I was linked to this article from Facebook. You see, Facebook is altering my mind drastically — it’s helping me learn about things I might not otherwise know about!

  49. Marci June 18, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    As someone who just “deactivated” about 3 weeks ago this 110% resonates with me! Thanks for the science to prove my feelings. Plus, for me, I came to a place where my life is “full” and I feel like there is no room for distractions. But you’ve probably pushed me over the edge.

    • David Rainoshek June 19, 2013 at 12:23 am #

      Hi Marci!

      Nice! The research and personal experience with Facebook has definitely had a serious effect on when/how I use the technology, and what I am encouraging for a young population of internet users whose minds, social lives, and development are intertwined with the internet. It’s a force for good, but we have to design it and use it as such, or it will rule us like T.V.

      See you again for the continued conversation!

  50. Emergency kits June 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

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    • David Rainoshek June 19, 2013 at 12:21 am #

      Thank you! I am so glad you liked the post! Stay tuned, more is on the way! Have a great week!

  51. eoin June 19, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    Seen as I’m Irish living in vancouver I go on facebook to keep in contact with my friends from home, other friends in other countries, private mail i receive (like an email i suppose) and interesting posts from sites like true activist, the idealist and so on. I have turned off posts on my home feed from a lot of people.. people who take 100 photos on a night out– photos of themselves getting ready in their bedroom, in the taxi, in the pub, on top of the toilet, in the night club, on top of the toilet, in the taxi on the way home, at home! fuk that carry on, who needs to see that crap!! there is too much crap on facebook that people post… and it draws other people in to have a ‘look at what they are doing’ to such an extent that facebook has become like a soap series like eastenders or corination street, — Get out and live life properly people!!

  52. Krista Peck June 19, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    I’m visiting because when David Rainoshek quotes you, you apparently get 200+ hits :) Great, comprehensive article – such an interesting subject. Thanks so much for the shout out.

    • David Rainoshek June 19, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      Hi Krista! How nice to hear from you! I really enjoyed your well-written post, and was happy to quote you. The aesthetic of your site is stellar, by the way. Let’s stay in touch!

  53. William June 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    There are several methodological issues inherent in the studies you site–mainly that the empirical studies were not well-controlled enough to rule out viable alternative explanations. I will not itemize these. I instead would like to highlight a conceptual issue. The idea that media that encourage “cursory” readings or short attention decrease intelligence implies that intelligence is a equivalent to some universal mental acuity when in fact the way that we measure intelligence has to do mostly with reading and verbal skills. Of course the less one reads the lower his/her intelligence scores. That is merely because “verbal proficiency” scores weigh so highly on IQ. Now that may have a lot of negative implications with regard to academic performance, as IQ is the best predictor of GPA. However, a related problem is that our schools are antiquated and don’t necessarily train people for occupation success or success in life. Is the issue that the internet is hurting our very important reading skills or that reading skills are given way too much importance in a society that is changing and is relying less and less on these skills. Perhaps some kind of acuity related to social media use but not highly correlated with verbal proficiency is actually more relevant to the modern global economy. I think it’s important to consider.

  54. Rey C. Sabio June 20, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Thank you so much David Rainoshek for the enhancing blog post “How Facebook (FB) is Altering Your Mind”. I’m quite aware the internet (not just FB) has been reworking my brain. It keeps changing, improving my mind, and the minds of others I share it with, I believe. Reading your post straight through just indicates I don’t have a short attention span. I learned, even before internet’s advent, that I have to limit my teevee viewing, to carefully read or filter them. So there, I was ready for the jolts, I’m quite focused on what I’m doing. Thanks for FB, the whole internet, the web, my life improves, and I suppose, the lives of others. With it, I am able to read more, to share more, books; to do more exercises (esp. brisk walking); to eat more healthy foods; to meditate as often as I can; and to do more community work and help improve the lives of others. With FB, I come to know informed and concerned people like you. And with you and others like-minded around, FB and the internet must keep improving.

  55. Ardee June 20, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    Thanks for this article. I do have a FB account but found it’s more of a time warper than even television or just floating around the internet, so I rarely check in there; I have an active, if stressful life. I don’t need the guilt that goes with sitting in front of a screen, any screen.

    I agree with many here who understand that like anything, Facebook can be used or it can be abused. It depends on the person and for some it can be a wonderful, virtual ‘place’ to learn, have fun and connect with people; for others it can become a psychological or emotional burden..

    It seems that anything, from things we ingest such as food or drugs or drink, to sex, to television, to a hobby or a way of thinking, even “love”, can change a person’s brain and they can become addicted. Somewhere along the line, a choice that is made becomes an unhealthy obsession with severe and serious consequences. It just seems to be part and parcel of the human condition. Though not every one becomes addicted to something, the possibility is there for everyone, like it or not; and one must always be cognizant that, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

    Moderation in all things is probably a good approach to living in the material world. ;)

    P.S. “Time” is my favorite Pink Floyd tune.

  56. Rachael June 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    Thanks for the post. It’s well done and informative. I agree with the bubbles being created. I’m fascinated by the cleverness of the companies who wish to control minds via the internet and I’m amused by their naive presumption that the process will be in any way as easy and predictable as television has been.
    I’d like to know your thoughts on the internet, and, at times, especially Facebook, as a way of sharing news that the multi-national corporate owned media machine doesn’t cover. For example, I have pages on FB that cover political and human rights protests around the country by sharing articles, pictures, and live streams from independent journalists.
    Right now we’re currently getting the word out about austerity protests happening as I write this in Turkey, Brazil, and India, as well as a few other locations who’ve joined in solidarity.
    Also, we’ve consistently posted main stream taboo subjects like
    • Bradley Manning and the appallingly brutal handling of his case by the US Military
    • the level of corruption within the monopolized banking system
    • the main tenets of the mainstream media ignored and vilified Occupy movement which, since the inception of Occupy and to the dismay of the Oligarchic elite, has become part of the global conversation, whether the source is acknowledged or not
    • the global responses to the USA’s current use of drones that are causing the mutilation and death of hundreds of innocent people in areas in which war is undeclared
    • the massive, global March Against Monsanto that took place last month and educated millions of people about the state of our genetically modified food chain
    • the degree to which multi-billion dollar surveillance companies, contracted by the NSA, have downloaded the personal data of millions of people all over the world
    • the global public’s reaction to this
    • the wildly increasing police state
    • the exponential proliferation of private, for profit prisons and subsequent closures of hundreds of public schools in economically fragile, ethnic minority populated areas
    • the questionable death of investigative journalist Michael Hastings on Tuesday who, days before he was set to publish an incriminating article about some key players in the upper ranks of our government and one day before he contacted Wikileaks to inform them he was being aggressively tracked by the FBI, was killed when his Mercedes, traveling at apparently break neck speed in a congested area of Los Angeles with stop lights at every block, exploded into an inferno of flames upon hitting a palm tree
    • the degree to which our high level politicians on both “sides” are being influenced by incredibly wealthy corporate interests at the expense of the well being of the People and the Planet as a whole
    • the horrific potential affects of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which, if allowed, will turn our heartland into a transport system for the biggest export of crude oil in the world and, while giving the American and Canadian people nothing but a few years worth of jobs, will line the pockets of some of the wealthiest oil execs in the world, who will then turn around and sell it back to US citizens at skyrocketed rates
    • and, among a myriad of other topics, countless articles which point to the deliberate distraction and bias of the mainstream media in general
    How will we, as a species, continue to wake up to current state of our civilization?

    Without this particular high tech window, how will we continue to speak truth to power? How will we collectively share information with each other? How will we know how to reach each other when the shit hits the proverbial fan as it inevitably will? How will we continue to speak to each other across the continents without the status-quo-preserving mainstream media telling us what and how to think? How else can we have any chance of reaching the narcissists, pulling them out of their bubbles, and bringing them into the streets to collectively face reality and focus on preserving humanity?
    Thanks again,
    Rachael

  57. Mark Edwards June 21, 2013 at 3:21 am #

    I Love how FB keeps Me connected with so many of my Friends and Family, and I usually leave feeling inspired.. I get to find out about world events directly from my Friends, or Friends of Friends..

    Sending You Love,

    <3

  58. basiab77 June 21, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I am curious about the brain development and synaptic impulses we create but am concerned people are getting more and more ditsracted and cultivating presence and mindfulness will be a job description and new subject in the curriculum at school.

  59. Jizelle Bautista June 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    I once counted the number of times my mind would lose focus from the task at hand: I was at work trying to get a timeline completed and in a span of 40 minutes, I had 21 urges to Google something, message someone, or go to a particular website. It was so scary (and yet so profound) that I’ve kept the post-it note with the tally to remind me of how weak my brain has become. I am ready to unplug save for two worries: First, as an expat, I worry about not being able to keep in touch with friends back home. Facebook has made it so easy. Second, I have a travel blog that I’m very passionate about and I use Facebook as a promotional tool. My FB page has 117 likes (haha) but I treasure every single one of them. It will be tough but I’m willing to give myself a big jolt and try to an ‘alternative’ digital lifestyle.

  60. JACK June 22, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Get rid of your master, I mean cell phone and this ridicules article won’t matter. Yes social situations are stressful genius. HIgh school was stressful at times as was college, but after that your group of friends keeps shrinking until you lose touch with everyone but your wife and kids if you have any. I keep in touch with friends in other states and countries with facebook. I see their birthdays and parties and good times and get to share things with people that I would never see. The writer of this article should grow some balls and listen ti the song I am a rock” by SImon & Garfunkel. The person writing this article spends 20 hours a day staring at his phone and he’s worried about Facebook. Divide and conquer

    • David Rainoshek June 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Actually, Jack, I do not own a cellphone. And this article was not a strike at the benefits of connectivity that FB is allowing…. it is the architecture of the site and its effect on brain development. Also, the impact on a significant portion of our society – particularly young people – on their sense of self-worth.

      If this does not apply to you, great. But don’t miss out on the fact that a large part of the society you live in – particularly the young who are the future of our nations – are being negatively impacted in many cases.

      Thank you for your comments! I relish the back-and-forth!

  61. Kathi June 23, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    I could have told you that FB is addictive. My husband spends so much time in front of the computer, on FB, Twitter, LinkdIn, etc., because he thinks that being part of social media is a good way to generate business. I see him doing a lot of work, but I don’t see a lot of clients coming in through his efforts. I just joined a short while ago, hoping to reconnect with old friends, and stay in touch with more recent ones. I have posted events, invited public to them, have made a few comments (helpful tips for people who had problems) or “liked” someone else’s post. I am discriminating about what I put my approval to. So far, haven’t really felt like what I have done on FB has given any returns. People’s posts push my news feed through so fast, how are they going to see my post, way down the list. I don’t scroll down any further than one page. When it resets the scroll button to the top, that’s it, I know I’m done. I have too many things that I like to do to be sitting for hours in front of this collection of hardware and electronic impulses. I told myself that I would give being on FB 6 months. After reading your article, I’m done. thank you so much for validating my feelings. If someone truly wants to be my “friend”, they can call me. If they really “like” what I have to say, or what I am doing, then come to my events, if you are close enough to join me in person. Otherwise, I’m not interested.

    • David Rainoshek June 24, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am so glad the article is helpful to you! Many people have done a FB “fast” of sorts to see how their lives improve. You might find leaving it behind altogether is best, as you say. Enjoy your beautiful life!

      • Carly June 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

        I recently did a Facebook “fast” (it was only for a weekend), but I felt so much….better….after I did. I realized I went the entire weekend without knowing who was pregnant, whose dog died, whose kid quoted Ghostbusters for the third time, etc. etc. I managed to read a book, watch a movie that I’d been meaning to see (Greetings from Tim Buckley – you should check it out), and spent some time with my Mom just sitting outside and talking. I never considered myself addicted, but the feeling of freedom I felt from not opening up my laptop every five seconds really opened my eyes. I’ve gone back to FB since, but I’m making a conscious effort not to be on it as often, and to go outside, enjoy life, and talk to my friends. Because my real friends are the ones that have my phone number, not the ones who “like” my status updates.

        Thanks for the interesting read – I will be passing it on.

  62. kenny nicholson June 24, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    terrible article. terribly written and completely over-dramatizing the effects of fb on people. normal people who have balance in their lives, do some exercise, see their friends, read some book and have hobbies dont need to give up fb. fair enough if you are depressed or have issues already then maybe.

    • David Rainoshek June 24, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      Thank you for your interesting comment. Normal people are kids – and the research shows their brains are being negatively affected, as measured in attention span, reported self-image, and narcissism.

      Oh, and depression, you may not have noticed, but more Americans – particularly young people – are on psychotropic pharmaceuticals for just that than ever before. Think about it.

  63. Graham June 24, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    As this article is quite long, I kept feeling the urge to go check my email and/or Facebook while reading. It was hard to resist. I think you’re definitely onto something!

  64. Jillian June 27, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    David,

    Thank you for a wonderful article! I read this for the first time a few days ago and have been thinking about it often. I am a recent college graduate who studied psychology and was instantly hooked at the mention of dopamine. You bring up some excellent points concerning FB use and neuroplasticity… scary stuff! I’d been contemplating quitting Twitter for a while and this article was the final bit of motivation I needed. As far as FB… I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be a good idea to nix that as well.

    I feel as though social media and technology in general, really, is only holding society together by weak ties while in-person companionship and comradery is becoming less and less and this terrifies me.

    At the end of the day, what do we have if we don’t have each other? How do we feel complete without a sense of community that exists beyond the bounds of a small screen?

  65. Mark July 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks for a thought-provoking article.

    Having been a teacher for many years, I have been a witness to the simple truth that attention spans have collapsed over time; first television, then films, then mobile devices – now social media.

    Of course such social media sites have also changed our understanding of the term “friend” among others.

    I am sure you will understand why, for several years, I have been calling the site Fey Spook.

    Regards.

  66. Martha Kennedy July 6, 2013 at 12:58 am #

    Thank you! this is great. I quite Facebook about 10 days ago and felt relief immediately. Your blog here spells out much of what I tried to explain to my FB friends (who didn’t take my leaving well). One friend said, “The only way to deal with addiction is to learn moderation.” I thought, “Tell that to my dead alcoholic brother or my ex-junky friends, you user,” but I’m too nice… I wasn’t addicted. I was bored and frustrated at feeling forced to maintain relationships in a way that didn’t feel like relating at all. I was, “OK you’re there, but I’m not.” Two friends have followed; many give excuses why they can’t, not (apparently) aware that I never said they or anyone else should.

    I especially like the analysis given here about how FB markets to our past, not our future. I felt that, too, held back.

    I teach college writing and I would submit that my students inability to see beneath the surface of anything or find connections between things that are superficially dissimilar is related to this. There are many forces; the flatness of the screen is one. Another is the experience they’ve had of hunting and finding “answers” without searching for them (in their mind, in their thought, that no one has had before) and there is the other that I am being “mean” for expecting them to care about developing such skills.

  67. Kelli JR Doyle July 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    Thank you for this amazing article! You just inspired me to start posting on my blog again. This is the first post I’ve written in years: http://gn0ssos.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/blame-facebook-for-our-short-attention-sp-wait-what-was-i-saying/

    (Sorry if links aren’t allowed, not trying to spam). This is what I wrote in reaction to your article:

    Just ran across this amazing article, “How Facebook Is Altering Your Mind.” Ironically enough, I would not have discovered it if it weren’t for Facebook. I shared and liked it on Facebook. It seems the almighty, omnipotent “Facecrack” has become the Wal-Mart of the interwebz. So powerful, it absolutely demolishes anything in its path. So addicting, it could arguably be considered an actual drug. And why not call it a literal drug? Seeking constant gratification from your FB Newsfeed has been scientifically shown to affect dopamine levels. The article implies that Facebook picks up where television programming left off, ascending to power as the more modern choice of programming for this generation.

    Am I the only one a little frightened by the feeling that I can’t live without my Facebook profile? More and more, businesses are relying on Facebook to drum up profits. I myself work with my mother as a Social Media Marketing Assistant, utilizing Facebook for small businesses to gain brand awareness. But what does that mean for individuals? It means more advertisements, whether you consciously realize you’re absorbing them or not. If only it were possible to pay for an advertisement-free Facebook account. Of course that will never happen. Facebook has become probably the biggest resource for marketing in the world. So insidious is this medium, it is easy for us to forget we are being targeted by advertisements.

    So, let’s log out and step back here for a second. What all exactly is happening when we create a Facebook profile and proceed to check our newsfeeds, comments and messages every day… usually countless times daily? The slightly more obvious thing is that we are making FAR too much information public. Some of us have caught on to this and perhaps at least leave our ADDRESS and crazy things like that out of our public profiles. However, it is not hard to fill in the blanks by looking at what pages you like and where your friends are located. Let’s say you don’t want people to know your location. All a person – or computer – would have to do is check the location of most of your friends, or take an educated guess from what local businesses you have recently liked. Then of course that information is used to decide what advertisements to feed you, which brings us to the second sneaky thing about Facebook…

    If we really look at it, social networking is merely the tool used to lure people onto the site. You just feel like you HAVE to make a Facebook profile because everyone else is on it! You practically don’t exist without one! The trap is set and keeping up with friends is the cheese. What Facebook really wants you for is to shove products down your throat. It’s so easy to forget that every single time we log in, we are constantly being advertised to. This article discusses how much of the advertisements directed at us on Facebook are subconsciously consumed. Freaky.

    I mentioned that I use Facebook as part of how I make my living. Many people do. It can be used for good in some ways. Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be very instrumental in building brands for small businesses that otherwise would struggle to gain recognition. Perhaps as a society we should just try to be more discerning about the information we consume and give out. Perhaps we should try dusting off some of those old books and using them for more than just decoration (guilty). I recently saw an episode of Through the Wormhole that discusses “life logging” – the process of recording your daily life over the years through images, journals, etc. In it, they mentioned that

    Today, humanity generates more information in 2 days than it did throughout all of history until the year 2003.

    With all those stupid cat pictures and petty status updates floating around, won’t future generations have a hard time discovering what was important to us today? Just a thought.

    This issue has been a big concern for me for awhile. A few years back, I wrote this article: Does society really need Twitter? I wish I had the will power to delete all these accounts. I just don’t. I still do hate Twitter, though.

  68. Kelli JR Doyle July 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Sorry for my last comment was so lengthy. As someone who partially makes her living from utilizing Facebook and other forms of social media for small businesses, I was inspired to write a reaction to your article on my blog. I was fascinated by your words. A few years back, when Twitter started getting popular I actually wrote an anti-Twitter article too. I have certainly noticed how these insidious mediums of subconscious corporate advertisements affect my brain. My attention span is so short, I can barely read more than the first two sentences of anything anymore. I used to be an avid reader and now I can barely stand to read the first page of a book. Recently I have really been trying to re-train myself, though. I think I’m actually about to log off right now and at least try to get through a Harry Potter book again. It’s a start. Thanks again!

  69. Tatyanna July 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    Thanks for this, a very useful breakdown of dopamine/addiction, ADD and the emptiness of a virtual social life. The internet truly is an amazing tool, and one so ingrained in our society it would be very difficult to do without–research, running a business, sending groups of people the same information in the shortest period of time, etc. Our neighborhood, for instance, has really come together with the help of an online forum; we share info about break-ins, road/fire conditions, we created an association which acquired a contract w/a propane company at drastically reduced rates, we organized to meet with our county supervisor about: our access to high speed internet (irony?)! And yet, as you point out, there is something unhealthy in the buzz and fluff and compelling drive to ‘check in.’ This is beyond FB and Twitter (though they’re great examples); it is also about emails, texts, multiple browser tabs, ebay/craigslist/amazon retail therapy, etc.

    What is amazing to me is comparing our access now to 20-25 years ago. In that short time span we went from encyclopedias to google/wikipedia and never looked back! We hear about global news events in real time from on the scene cell phone pictures, videos, and twitter feeds. For better or for worse. It’s who and where we are today…

    I agree that the situation calls for conscious attention! The use of mindfulness applied toward habituation (of any sort!) with a gentle nudge toward being present in the real (not ‘virtual’) moment; a healthy dose of nature and movement; family/social time–in person–actually tasting the food and listening to the thoughts and feelings; and constant redirection, given the certainty of death, toward what is important right now.

  70. Jess July 16, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    I am 23 years old and essentially ‘grew up’ on Facebook. It seems that the internet shifts its loyalties; I began my adolescent internet journey on MySpace (which coincidentally is so out of fashion they want to close it down, even though it was only around for 3-4 years), then migrated to FB when more social friends decided it was the better place to be. That was in 2006, and here I am today paying upwards of $150 in excess data fees on my phone bill because I scroll and scroll and scroll, desperate to see if someone posted about me, or my crush wrote a status that was some roundabout song lyric that I’m sure was meant for me to read.

    When I was in high school, I wrote songs and poetry and stories… Not all of it was good, mind you, but that was how my creativity was let out. I did it out of frustration at things in my life, and purely just for the enjoyment of writing creatively. How often do we look at something someone else has done creatively and think “wow, I wish I could do that!” I would draw and play piano and sing.

    Now when people are frustrated, they lash out on Facebook by posting a status or on someone’s wall some insult which, as was pointed out, they would never say face to face.

    When I am busy with an event in my life (driving to a holiday, attending a party or going to the movies), I don’t even miss being on FB. I frequently leave my phone at home and it is truly amazing how much more work gets done when you’re not distracted by grumpy cat meme’s (seriously, it’s a thing). But the second I get that *ping* notification on my phone, I’m back into the addiction, hoping that someone, somewhere, said something about me that would make me feel connected in social media.

    I think I would like to challenge myself to be without FB for a month, and maybe I would find out just how creative and attentive I could be to a task.

    As a quick side note, in regards to the section about FB (and more broadly, the internet) making us more stupid, I noticed significant changes in my spelling and grammar when I stopped reading books and started reading screens. Consequently, I have begun reading again, and I often find myself lost in worlds I forgot existed. I am probably considered a ‘geek’ in my generation, but I do worry about the ‘naughties’ (those born from 2000) who will only regard school as a distraction from technology, rather than the other way around.

    So much more to say on the topic, but I think I may just write my own blog on the subject!! Thank you very much for posting this article!

  71. David July 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    I came by this link on Facebook, so for me reading this is “being on Facebook”… As for things that make you feel bad on FB, I have come up with a rule in that after a few strikes from the same “friend”, like endless daily pictures of cats or useless personal posts or photos, he’s out – I simply disconnect him from my feed. I am still working though, on what relates to the kind of information that I get on my feed. By nature I am a “completist”, and have thousands of stored tabs that still await my decision to close them. One has to lose certain interests to be able to exist on this age of endless information and still have time for an offline life, which on the other hand if it wasn’t for this I wouldn’t be able to appreciate as much. Even the simple things. But the internet is something that keeps transforming and growing and as such, it’s not very likely that I will ever “finish” it…

  72. Idara July 18, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    To think that I unsubscribed from all the email newsletters and instead liked the blogs/sites on FB and/or followed on twitter, in order to free up space in my inbox. Having to sort through about 30 emails per day was really tiring. I may like the blog/site but it does not mean that I like to read everything they send out. With FB and twitter, if I see it good, if I don’t, I won’t miss it if I knew it existed. I love to read, I will read anything on anything, but I still favour the good old-fashioned book.

    I don’t really care much for the way people are living their lives. I don’t get jealous or lose (more) self-esteem. It really made me wonder at the seeming division between self-esteem and narcissism; I am definitely not narcissistic and I tend to have less self esteem than I would wish for myself, but I don’t post about every cool thing that I have done. I hate taking photos (low self-esteem), even though I have realised (and been told) that I mostly look good in them.

    For me, the key is knowing in my heart of hearts that I am equally as successful/good looking/fun living/prosperous as any of the people on my FB, without having to feel the need to tell everyone about it. Sure, there are times when I wish I would have taken a photo too at the fabulous place I went to in my shiny outfit complete with impeccable makeup so I can show to the world, but most times I realise I am satisfied with my life not being so shallow and exposed.

  73. Maria Kelly July 28, 2013 at 11:36 pm #

    Nothing new said here. And though interesting to some extent not that well written. But yes, the concern for me is the affect of the internet on the youthful developing mind… Its huge time consumption for younger people who used to learn and develop through imaginery role playing, and bike riding etc and real live self thought up adventures that made them break their parents rules but use their mind to escape and go to explore some part of town or some movie that was “forbidden”.
    It is thought safe to be on the internet. Too safe… Though warnings of dangerous strangers, never leaving the land of the internet and video games offers little real interaction with other people and does not require learning social skills or critical thinking.
    The dopamine and synapse connections need more research. More than likely the use of internet reduces GABA AND SEROTONIN beyond the initial dopamine surge.
    These neurotransmitters
    are far more likely to create ongoing depression and increased anxiety. The real world becomes formidable while the internet is familiar and comfortable.
    Time limitations by the Governor of NYC may be required… As all this will undoubtedly also contribute to obesity.!

  74. Alberto August 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I can’t the whole thing now but I have checked most of it, I will finish reading the article later…

    But, for now at least while I finish some business I will post a reply with a question…
    How can we use Facebook in a safer way? Or which is a better way to use Facebook without having this problems? Might sound like a dumb question for some, but I’m curious after the parts I got to read, I feel worried in fact… I thank anyone who gives me an idea…

  75. Maureen August 4, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I get the gist of the article. I read most of it :) so excuse me if I missed something. I was around when there was no internet, no vcr, no texting, and 12 channels on black and white t.v. (no remote). I had a short attention span then as I do now. I love looking at people’s vacation pictures. Don’t feel envious or worse after I hear about other people’s good news. If it triggers feeling of loneliness and misery that says more about the person than Facebook. It delivers news about people. Someone is on vacation, someone else has a birthday. Better that than the six o’clock news which is sometimes so negative and truly depressing. Sure it’s just fodder but who cares? Sometimes we like to unwind doing something mindless. Maybe my time would be better spent in meditation and reading important literary works but sometimes I just want to vege out for a few moments. That is ok.
    I love the internet. Back in the day if I was curious about a Greek goddess, what vitamins are good for whatever ailment, or how do I make tzatziki, I would have to walk or drive to the library, look up the card catalog, look through a bunch of books. It wouldn’t happen. I would have to be sooo motivated to find the information. I would likely only look for things that were the most important. For someone like me- The internet has made me smarter! I know way more useful and thought provoking information that I would have without it. I have a B.A. so I am not a complete ninny. I also only went to grade nine in high school. I love the internet. Facebook is fun. It is like coffee, wine or chocolate. I like it, would miss it if it was gone, but it’s not the end of the world. I get the brain science aspect. Maybe it’s not great for everyone. We certainly need to be mindful of kids becoming addicted to it. This article seems to focus on the negative.

  76. Lisa | Rohtopia.com August 10, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi David,

    thanks for collecting all the data and posting it here – you were speaking my heart.

    Despite the fact that facebook is indeed a great way for staying at least somehow in touch with people, especially when you live abroad like I do, I have been noticing that urge to ‘just quickly check’ before getting work done, that inability to stay focused on one task for longer than a few minutes, suddenly finding myself with 20 new bookmarks on 4 completely different topics, and last but not least, also that feeling of emptiness.

    My only remedy so far – no internet.
    Whether I am overseas and do not have access to wi-fi, or the connection at home is temporarily down – I might first complain but then 1. feel better 2. get more done, with a 100% guarantee, and I love it. I am SO proud when I finish tasks, and SO not proud and unsatisfied when I don’t so that’s another bonus. It also had been worrying me a lot that I wasn’t able to concentrate as long as I thought I used to, and I had considered quite a few things from b12 deficiency to low blood sugar to depression. Good I found your post!

    FYI, there is software (several websites, freeware as well) that will disable access to any websites selected by you, for a time frame also chosen by you – and I will for sure be using it in the future.

    Thanks once again, also for the suggested reads – “Chicks and me high” has been on my reading list literally for years, but always in regards to finding flow in running. I never read it but in relation to this topic, I will. Maybe with another juice feast, the last one was already over 3 years ago.

    Happy days!

    Lisa

  77. Dave Sunhammer August 19, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    While I agree that many of these things your article talks about might be happening, a blanket universal scare statement, “This is happening to you!!” is always suspect. It is suspect because people vary so widely. However, once I saw the statement that “Facebook is way worse than tv!!” well, that ended my interest.

    At least while logged on to facebook one is interacting, searching, studying, gaming and so on. With tv however, studies have shown that people slip into a very passive sleep-like state. Further, studies out of MIT concerning Suspension of Disbelief show how truly bad viewing television can be; marketing manipulation to immersion in violence.

    Another objection would be: All of the complaints about feeling envy, or not wanting to hear about Bob’s new girlfriend, and so on, has less to do with Facebook itself, and the more the person involved. Moreover, replace Facebook with “workplace” or “night club” or “friends house” and all these feelings arise in those settings as well. Look how many people dread going home for Christmas due to their parents drama.

    In the end, Facebook is just one more interface to the world. How each person uses or abuses this interface is up to them, and how they allow this interface to shape them is up to them.

    I appreciate that this is how you make your money, but “fear” is always the biggest shaper of the human mind. And there are just too many messages of fear these days. One of the things I dislike about facebook is the constant wave of “Oh! This Product/Activity/Food is Killing You!” In fact, guess where I found the link to this article?

  78. Mya Bea August 20, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    i’ve been watching and participating w FB for about five years, b/c it’s development as a tool has been extremely fascinating; mainly, i appreciate it’s potential for leveraging social connection amongst digital citizens. Main key however: *being* a digital citizen. Which means growing up our engagement with the interwebs, taking responsibility for how we use this technology and what we’re putting out in the noosphere. i can’t speak for those who grew up fully digital (i was pretty excited to research papers in “libraries” in the comfort of my own home in grad school and it *blew* my mind!), but i suspect it’s a learning curve for all of us, to use this (and other digital) tools not as a pathologically adolescent escape/addiction but as a centralized spot for peer-recommended “news” — the way we might have gotten it back when we had villages — except our village is glocal, now.

    Given what we know (are knowing) about brain plasticity (also impacted deeply, for example, by ayahuasca and other DMT-based substances), it’s no wonder FB and the internet, in general, leave a deep scar. But is it the inherent fault of the tool? i think one could argue that we are, as humans, going at least partly cyborg (to some degree or another). It’s just part of our evolution. BUT. We can’t loose our connection to nature. We need to learn to set boundaries around our use/participation w the interwebs; give ourselves regular technology sabbaticals; see the value of cultivating our digital citizenship for all it’s value — and know where the limitations are, too. Nothing can replace human touch. Or actual dirt and trees and fresh air and quiet breezes. We *can* coexist w technology, even FB — but it’s a matter of being conscious about the engagement.

    When i hear of extreme feelings as they connect to FB — depression, envy, rage, obsession — i can’t help but think these connect to a wound-place that exists outside and much deeper than the FB realm — though they manifest fantastically with FB essentially acting as a vehicle that reflects what is inside the person already. FB, it seems to me, *is* (can be) a rather dramatic and fairly skewed reflection of ourselves — especially if we let it — but a reflection nevertheless. i, for one, am happy w my FB life: it lets me take the pulse of my extended community; it brings me news & art & music from people i respect and trust to take the time i don’t have to find newsworthy information; it keeps me in-the-know about what my community is doing in a face-to-face capacity; it gives me a breather from the grind of work. Yeah, sure, there’s some escape and some days i over do it, perhaps. But i always think that what we choose to put out/take in shapes the vibe of the world we are living in, even if it’s digital. i’m happy to report that my newsfeed is generally lovely to scroll through; i only friend people i’ve actually had human connection and RAPPORT established with; and i LOVE turning my technology off so i can breathe me some nature with the people i love! i fully advocate for the mature use of FB and other social media platforms — but we, as a glocal culture, need to work through our pathologically adolescent use of what still seems shiny and new. i can totally see the potential, but we’ve yet to hit the tipping point that brings our expectations of digital relating to a respectful, responsible citizen-based level. But we’ll get there. i do believe this — at least in pockets, if not the masses. Be interesting to see how us humans are floating in digital space in 20 years, no? Thanks for such a thought provoking article, though i must respectfully assert that it’s not all so bad as it seems! Cheers~ MyaBea

  79. Gabriele September 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Thanks, i was looking for some information about Facebook, like this, and founded your article. Did’n find exactly wath I was looking for, but had an interesting reading. If you know something I’m looking for some information about a spot made in Germany on Facebook lack of privacy.

    Best regards.

  80. Ahdar September 26, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    I’m 16 and use Facebook regularly. I thought this article was well written and particularly liked the scientific side of it. It’s important for people to be aware of the subtle things happening to them when they’re on Facebook or the internet.

  81. Ellebasi September 26, 2013 at 2:12 am #

    This article gives me a big reality check. I’m 17 years old and have been using facebook for about 3 years now and haven’t become an addict of facebook yet. Honestly, half of the time I don’t find anything particularly interesting on it. I’ve actually contemplated deleting my account, but that’s an ordeal within itself.

  82. indahant September 26, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    i agree with you about the effect of we using FB but i i don’t agree at all because some people using FB for their marketing or samehing like that.
    and i think for the effect that is depend of how they using the technology.
    But thank you for your information and i really like it :)
    ” i’m 15 years old “

  83. Helmut October 17, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Thanks for this! I am VERY prone to cyberaddiction – and while knowing it I have relapses over and again – it´s good to read into the dopamine-hit-mechanisms you describe. When working with addicts (I worked in respiratory medicine for quite a long time and was interested in smoking and helping people to kick the habit: it took me a long time to look into what it was they were really looking for, what the kick they were getting from cigs looked like from the inside – and encouraged them to value the good aspects of what they were looking for via the cigarette before quitting the habit. “Try finding out the good and healthy rewards of your smoking habits before kicking the habit – and when you have a good feeling for that – only then begin to look for other ways to get the reward without reaching for that which you know is harming you!”
    Now it is me who is addicted and I am grateful for your research: I see that you are helping me to go along the same road I was nudging those addicted smokers onto. This morning it was yoga – and writing this in grateful response to a real person out there who – beyond cyberspace – is living his very real life in this short span between his birth and his death. Thanks for your sharing kindness!
    Maybe you can enjoy this poem – you have just reminded me of it – I stumble across it every couple of years and memorized it ages ago – I will try to resuscitate my memory now.

    Before The Beginning Of Years

    by

    Algernon Charles Swinburne

    Before the beginning of years

    There came to the making of man

    Time, with a gift of tears;

    Grief, with a glass that ran;

    Pleasure, with pain for leaven;

    Summer, with flowers that fell;

    Remembrance, fallen from heaven,

    And madness risen from hell;

    Strength without hands to smite;

    Love that endures for a breath;

    Night, the shadow of light,

    And life, the shadow of death.

    And the high gods took in hand

    Fire, and the falling of tears,

    And a measure of sliding sand

    From under the feet of the years;

    And froth and the drift of the sea;

    And dust of the laboring earth;

    And bodies of things to be

    In the houses of death and of birth;

    And wrought with weeping and laughter,

    And fashioned with loathing and love,

    With life before and after

    And death beneath and above,

    For a day and a night and a morrow,

    That his strength might endure for a span

    With travail and heavy sorrow,

    The holy spirit of man.

    From the winds of the north and the south,

    They gathered as unto strife;

    They breathed upon his mouth,

    They filled his body with life;

    Eyesight and speech they wrought

    For the veils of the soul therein,

    A time for labor and thought,

    A time to serve and to sin;

    They gave him light in his ways,

    And love, and space for delight,

    And beauty, and length of days,

    And night, and sleep in the night.

    His speech is a burning fire;

    With his lips he travaileth;

    In his heart is a blind desire,

    In his eyes foreknowledge of death;

    He weaves, and is clothed with derision;

    Sows, and he shall not reap;

    His life is a watch or a vision

    Between a sleep and a sleep.

    • Helmut October 17, 2013 at 4:41 am #

      It is after all our encounter with “the holy spirit of man” within ourselves and within others (Namaste!) that triggers our deepest yearning – and often is behind our strolling off onto side-roads of addictive behavior – is it not?

  84. Linda November 5, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    None of what was written here rings true for me, except that I agree that people ALSO need to get out and experience life in the real world. Not *instead* of being on FB (or other social media, or watching TV), but *in addition* to the electronic screen stuff. And most people really do have a real life. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have anything to post on FB about.

    Someone posted a reply to this article that said, “I find it hard to believe that anyone can become addicted to FB, although I do know that 15 % of people become addicted to something. For me, it is an easy way to keep in touch with friends, but I pay no attention to all the other crap.”

    That pretty much says it for me, as well. It’s not an addiction. It’s not about a dopamine rush. It’s a nice, convenient way to keep in touch with a variety of people, get to know some people better, share interests with fellow hobby enthusiasts and others with common interests, share and view photos and recipes, read some jokes, get links to interesting articles, have an occasional chat, offer comfort to distant friends and relatives when they’re down, etc. This is all because my FB friends and I mostly have fairly full, rich, interesting lives beyond the computer! FB would be pretty dull if everyone I communicate with there didn’t have something interesting from his or her real life to contribute!

  85. Mika November 14, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    I was about to share this article directly from this page but I love that you don’t have the facebook ‘like’ button at the end of this piece! (Unless I missed it somewhere)

    Rock on!

  86. Cynthia Perkins December 5, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

    Hey David,

    Wow, truly one of the best articles I have ever read.

    Thanks and Kudos

    Cynthia

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