Facebook Users Are Having a Hard Time Detoxing From Their Feeds

By Aarthi Swaminathan and Michael B. Kelley | Yahoo Finance |

Trying to take a hiatus from social media? If you’re finding Facebook the hardest to leave, you’re not alone.

According to new data from The Harris Poll, the giant social network ranked the highest in a new survey that looked at the social media apps that people find the hardest to break away from. (Facebook has 2.2 billion monthly active users.)

The survey looked at 2,043 adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. and found that 49% of respondents found Facebook the hardest to abstain from, followed by YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.

The results varied slightly by gender. Across all ages, women found it more difficult than men to break away from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Men, meanwhile, found it more difficult than women to unplug from YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tinder.

‘You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology’

Sean Parker, an early Facebook investor and its first president, explained that Facebook was designed to play on dopamine, a chemical produced by our brains that motivates repeated behaviors.

“The thought process was all about, ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’” Parker told Mike Allen of Axios in November 2017. “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you more likes and comments. It’s a social validation feedback loop. … You’re exploiting a vulnerabilityin human psychology.”

Trevor Haynes, a research technician in the department of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, further explained that “companies like Facebook will continue to do everything they can to keep your eyes glued to the screen as often as possible. And by using algorithms to leverage our dopamine-driven reward circuitry, they stack the cards — and our brains — against us.”

And taking away those dopamine hits brings its own downside: 31% of respondents to The Harris Poll said they grew anxious when they didn’t check social media regularly.

Read more at Yahoo Finance.