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How does social media affect mental health?
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Social media causes dopamine highs and is thus addictive

Social media induces a chemical change in our brains, damaging our mental capacity over time. With every like and follow, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, effectively causing the brain to rewire itself to constantly crave social media.
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The Argument

People can get dopamine highs from checking social media and getting “likes” or “follows.” This instant gratification makes us lose patience over time, as we can be rewarded in seconds on social media. Such loss of patience as a result of instant gratification causes our brains to have difficulty focusing on tasks which have more long-term rewards for completion (i.e. reading a book). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by our brains and is released as a "reward" for beneficial behaviors. When we do something that the brain deems favorable, it releases dopamine to motivate us to repeat such things. Given that positive social interactions are/have been beneficial for our survival, the brain releases dopamine upon such positive social interactions. Since the advent of social media, we have been given endless opportunity for constant social interaction, and as a result, a potentially addictive and likewise endless source of dopamine. With each notification, like, and follow, the brain releases dopamine. The endless source of such positive social interaction effectively rewires the brain to constantly crave social media. In this way, social media is problematic when it becomes a coping mechanism to distract from or assuage "real life issues". Ultimately, social media offers nothing more than addictive and transient validation, while potentially detracting from users' lives in a big way.

Counter arguments

We cannot blame only social media for this dopamine high we are receiving, as it is hardly a phenomenon unique to social media. There are many things that give us a dopamine high--food, sex, drugs, gambling, exercise--which does not mean all of these things should be condemned. Rather, just like these things, social media should be rationed. Social media itself is not the problem; rather, the responsibility for one's mental health falls on the user. The user ought to be conscious of their own relationship to social media and know what the right usage is for themselves.



[P1] Social media can cause dopamine highs which decrease our patience over time. This is negatively altering the chemicals in our brain. [P2] Social media is bad for one's mental health.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] We already get a dopamine high from other things; social media is not the first thing that has the power to alter the chemicals in our brain. Anything, even good things, can become an addiction. [Rejecting P2] Social media is not negatively affecting our health. It is in the hands of the user to moderate their use of social media so that it does not become an addiction.


This page was last edited on Saturday, 15 Aug 2020 at 16:34 UTC

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