Facebook and dopamine--planned corporate addiction

Surfing though the tubes, I came across a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39RS3XbT2pU which leaves a great deal to contemplate, this video is 15:16 long and features 2 of Facebook's high executives, who have since left to company, for reasons not clearly stated, but which are irrelevant to this subject.

Shane Parker, former Facebook president, and Chamath Palihapitiya, former Facebook executive in charge of user growth, make a startling, yet not surprising disclosure. Facebook was consciously designed to be addicting. The addiction consists in part of controlling the dopamine reward circuitry in the brain. The methods utilized to achieve the goal are not precisely reviewed but things like shares, comments, thumbs up etc. are supposed to provide the user with little packets of dopamine release, thus making them want more.

In the austerity environment of shrinking expectations, high labor / low return employment and progressively more brazen assaults on civil liberty and truth in general, is it any wonder that people are looking for a "fix"? Well, we can't do marijuana says Big Pharma and Alcohol industries. We get opioids and other life-threatening avenues out from our individual and collective miseries. We get no relief in the form of alleviating the oppressive socioeconomic milieu into which we find ourselves. Can't do cocaine, despite the best efforts of the CIA to enable this habit. Cocaine is a dopamine releasing agent par excellence. Technically, it's a receptor agonist for cocaine. But I will spare you of the medicalese, to comment further.

From Merriam Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged, Second Edition:

Addict v.t.,; addicted, pt., pp.; addicting, par. [L. addictus, pp. of addere, to devote, to deliver over.] to apply habitually; to devote or give (oneself) up habitually (with to); to habituate; to attach closely: generally with a reflexive pronoun and sometimes in a good sense, but, as now used, generally in a bad sense; as to addict oneself to intemperance, to gambling, or the like; most frequently used in the past participle; as she was addicted to gossip.
to addict oneself to a person, as to a master or a leader (Obs.)

Addict, n, one who is addicted to some habit, as to the use of a drug.

Addiction, n,
1. the condition of being addicted (to a habit); habitual inclination
2. among the Romans, a making over of goods to another by sale or legal; sentence; also, an assignment of debtors in service to their creditors.

If any of your are interested in the neurobiology of addiction, there are thousands of technical papers, as well as more thousands of anthropologic / social science papers. Read them as you will.

Let's discuss this. First we start with the term homeostasis, which means keeping the body's internal milieu in as stable a balance as is possible, given the enormous variability of effort and environment. Homeostasis, for instance, is why most humans have a body temperature near 98.6˚.

Every human function, with the exception of thought (present in unfortunately limited numbers of humans) represents a system of chemical / electrical balances. Dopamine (DA) is certainly emblematic of this. The very well-known disease, Parkinson's (PD), is a reflection of primarily dopamine insufficiency, as well as other neurotransmitters. To a PD patient a controlled delivery of dopamine would largely normalize their life. Too much is bad, too little is bad. There must be a balance, which in PD is notoriously absent.

So let's come to pleasure, joy, delight, happiness, bliss, Nirvana, or whatever you want to call it. Dopamine is the primary but certainly not the only determinant of the above listed qualities. Too little release often results in social isolation, depression, abulia (for the curious, abulia, which can result from structural brain disease, is roughly equivalent to loss of zest for life), etc.

Too much DA results in excessive movement, tics, tremors, twitches, writhing, shaking, seizures. It also results in logorrhea, mania, grandiosity, paranoia, hyperthermia, death.

Clearly the subjects of the video were talking about excessive dopamine release in a controlled fashion. Raving maniacs from excessive FB-induced DA discharges would certainly be counter-productive to FB's aims of wider, not deader, audiences. So FB may have hit upon a sustainable formula for controlled-addiction, a sort of up-rated homeostasis, which in actuality may have been achieved. I don't FB, nor Twitter. I get my shots of DA partly from c99 and partly elsewhere.

If a new steady-state DA release is then achieved, the DA receptors recalibrate so that the newly elevated DA receptors require the newly achieved elevated DA levels. To use an old metaphor, the newly elevated DA regime becomes "old hat". Therefore, many of the chemically non-addicted FB'ers will notice a drop off in pleasure experienced from the FB interchange and go elsewhere for stimulation. FB die hards conceivably pursue this addiction into oblivion. Exit any pretense of rationality. Abandon cognitive examination, including those relating to emotion.

Too live a life without DA, is to live in a prison every bit as much as the most severe PD patients. There must be some in our lives, delivered at a sustainable rate. Many of the determinants of how much DA (or acetyl choline or serotonin or endorphins, etc) is enough depend upon environmental issues. These issues can be quantified only in a controlled laboratory environment and very specifically at that.

If one can control how much DA one allows into one's life, than FB or Twitter or even c99 can be useful for the occasional stimulus. Prolonged increasing stimulus in biology leads to only one of two outcomes: addiction or death.

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ovals49's picture

Please excuse my clumsy attempt at a click bait title. We all need to understand this burgeoning plague on our social intercourse. Push the button and watch this video, please.

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12 users have voted.

"Humanity is just an evolutionary cul de sac."
George Carlin

mimi's picture

@ovals49
pointed to.
Just saying, C99p stories' links are worth to be clicked on... Smile

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Raggedy Ann's picture

"The Social Network" that alludes to this. In the film, Fuckerberg talks about getting people to "live their lives on the web." That put another nail in the "no-FB-for-me" category. I saw these videos a couple of days ago, further cementing my resolve.

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13 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

ovals49's picture

@Raggedy Ann
but quickly lost interest in creating an online persona. Watching family and friends checking in to their social media around the dinner table, while driving, in meetings, at the movies, in bed and at social events had me recoiling and questioning the sanity of maintaining a virtual life in the midst of a real one. This video and the revelation of the intentional creation of this mass addiction platform for the purposes of manipulation and profit will definitely reenforce my instinctive aversion to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, & etc.

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16 users have voted.

"Humanity is just an evolutionary cul de sac."
George Carlin

"Dopamine makes your app addictive." https://usedopamine.com/

Our platform uses AI and Neuroscience to personalize moments of joy in your app. It adapts the rhythm and timing of (?)s to surprise and hook each user. They'll stay longer and engage more. Up to 167% more.

It's easy to install. We'll even help.

Your CTO will like it. Your CRO will love it.
But at the end of the day, only one thing matters:
Your users will crave it. And they'll crave you.

Anyone with money can buy and deploy the technology, it is everywhere. Thanks Silicon Valley, venture capital. Craven ripoffs.

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Socialprogressive's picture

and facebook sucks.

8126677223_3f63d6fed7_0.jpg

iSHSgS0_0.jpg

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10 users have voted.

My God can kick your Gods ass.

Lookout's picture

...despite the plea of friends. I not only don't have a smartphone, I don't even have a dumb phone...only a land line. Makes me feel like one of the lucky people that never were addicted to tobacco - that was an addiction I kicked a couple of decades ago.

Another powerful clip to me - Jimmy Dore and the crew do a great job of showing how corporate media is literally brainwashing the public comparing the UN vote against the embassy move with Jake Tapper's reporting of the outcome. Worth the watch and a nice piece to send to anyone you might know who watches CNN (26 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwyJ6Wx5lKU

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Sounds like a plot for a sci fi story. People use something like Facebook to interact with a large amount of "friends". Some are bots, but you don't know that...and it's all good. The excitement and approval raise your spirits and dopamine levels. You feel happy and alive. Then the AI that is managing this network starts diverting real people, and replacing them with bots. The approval disappears. All your friends, family start rejecting, belittling, insulting you. Depression sets in. Kids are told they're ugly and no one likes them. Adults are rejected and have their shortcomings used against them, spreads lies. Then the AI starts suggesting they kill themselves. Suicides skyrocket.

It'd never happen though, would it? Guys..right? Guys?

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Alligator Ed's picture

@Snode Snode--you are a mad genius. Bwahahaha! I'll help you write it because of my in depth knowledge of dopamine and we can share in the profits.

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8 users have voted.

@Alligator Ed You're the writer, you prove that all the time. When you take it to Hollywood, just please please, don't let them cast Tom Cruise in the lead.

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mimi's picture

on Sunday's Weekly Watch. I watched it then and was thinking about it all the time.

I don't FB, nor Twitter. I get my shots of DA partly from c99 and partly elsewhere.

Same here, you made me talk again. DA dispensor, you. I will go into quarantaine after this comment. You can't use this as a tool and not be addicted. I don't buy into it.

Here is the link to the Sane Progressive being back. As she talks about the issues that bothered me since Sunday, have a look.

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@mimi It's just another cause-du-jour. All the women producers, production assistants, scripts, make up, props, tech, catering will never speak out because they have no clout. The only way they could be heard is if Meryl Streep happened to be passing by and noticed harassment taking place, and if she wasn't too busy with something else, intervened. It won't help the woman hustling behind the counter at McDonalds. This is just rich people pretending to be "one of us".

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but I'm down in use by probably 90% from a year ago. My problem? Like real-world social networks (as opposed to professional networking), they tend to be the exclusive (and exclusionary) province of women. My wife and I have over a hundred common friends (probably skewing 3:1 female to male), and she can always get several dozen likes for posting a picture of the sunset or our dog, while I can provide original jokes and thoughtful observations on all manner of life experiences (yes, including politics) to the sound of crickets.

Now it may be that I am simply an insufferable boor and/or a dullard, and that my attempts at humor or insight are less compelling than the sight of a sleeping mongrel, but the other possibility is that there is simply nothing I could offer that would be worth acknowledging within this circle.

Does everyone else's FB experience slant so heavily female, and what is your theory why or why not?

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earthling1's picture

to my SO, she could'nt understand.
Soon after she called her mom and asked if she had seen what happened on "The Young and the Restless" yesterday.
Arrrgg! I give up.

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Alligator Ed's picture

@earthling1 The show she called her mother about is modern: "The Young and the Ruthless". It is filmed on Wall Street so the Vultures don't have to take much time of the raiding floor to film their scenes. Look for Loyd Blankfiend--one the show he wears a toupe and a gold mustache.

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