*This text was written by a columnist from TechWorld; learn more at the end.
The blackout of social networks on Monday (4) revealed chaos far beyond a technological issue. We live in a society increasingly dependent on digital content and this can pose serious risks to your physical and mental health. People had to spend hours without access to their favorite digital content and many revealed how dependent they are on these tools.
Through this event, I monitored people’s behavior during and after the return of social networks. If, while the blackout lasted, the person picked up his cell phone to constantly look for something to do or analyzed whether he had already returned. If the person sought other social networks, this already serves as a warning for a possible addiction. Depending on the degree that it affected, revealing the size of the problem.
Some of the main social networks in the world, such as Instagram, were offline on Monday (4) – (credits: wichayada suwanachun/Shutterstock)
It is necessary to remember that a short time ago we did not have these networks and we lived. What happens today with self-indulgence so that we are not able to use other means and arguments in everyday life? To find out if the person is suffering from this addiction, see some situations that happened to many users during this time when the applications were down.
- He stood looking at his cell phone not knowing what to do;
- I would enter applications constantly to see if it was back;
- You got into apps you didn’t use and got lost;
- He felt agony;
- Existential Void;
- He became impatient and/or irritated;
- He had the impression of receiving notification;
- Mood change.
If you experienced some or many of these symptoms during the day yesterday, it’s a good idea to turn on the warning sign, as these symptoms are related to nomophobia. To make matters worse, there are cases in which the person feels this absence so much that they may experience nausea, sweating, among other physical symptoms.
But what causes nomophobia?
Nomophobia is a phobia caused by discomfort and/or anxiety when the individual is without access to communication through electronic devices.
In the brain, in the region of the basal ganglia, working with the limbic system, the sensation of pleasure that the release of dopamine promotes with each new like or expectation of a message received on the social network transforms the habit into addiction, encouraging people to become increasingly online seeking reward, increasing anxiety that works as a pendency for this search.
Furthermore, the function of dopamine is to provide positive feedback, a reward to the body, which becomes a constant search. This is compensatory, as the anxiety itself tends to seek more or get into a bad atmosphere asking for more reward. Like an intermittent and gradual cycle.
Reports of people who use social networks to work in their daily lives were positive in the blackout; said they felt relieved and dropped their braces. This happens because, in these cases, the social network is used as a professional obligation; when we do something out of obligation, the reward is when we do something out of obligation. Unlike people who use the social network for leisure, which becomes a necessity over time.
This does not include influencers, who justify the addiction to the social network as a profession, or the production of content on the social network that has become a profitable profession, yet, in this way, it is part of the vicious cycle.
Fabiano de Abreu Rodrigues, columnist of TechWorld, holds a doctorate and master’s degree in Health Sciences in the areas of Neuroscience and Psychology, specializing in Electrical Properties of Neurons (Harvard), programming in Python at USP and in Artificial Intelligence at IBM. He is a member of Mensa International, the association of the smartest people in the world, the Portuguese and Brazilian Society of Neuroscience and the European Federation of Neuroscience. He is director of the Center for Research and Analysis Heraclitus (CPAH), IPI Intel Technology and considered one of the leading national scientists for studies of intelligence and high IQ.