18. The Cigarette of This Century

The Cigarette of This Century.

Ian Bogost, award-winning game developer

Initially, it is usually an external trigger, such as a flashing button, a link or a recommendation from a friend, that leads to action (= clicking). The user is rewarded with news, beautiful photos or interesting tweets, and associates certain emotions with them – similar to conditioning. He invests time, data, money or social capital in it, and is therefore very likely to return to this application. Over time, all that is needed is an inner trigger, usually a feeling (e.g. boredom), and he ends up back on the same websites, which reward him in a variety of ways.

The transition from habit to dependence is fluid. Today, we are dependent on new technologies – without them, the state, the economy and society would collapse. The extent to which social media are addictive is much discussed. Communication is almost unthinkable today without email, WhatsApp or Microsoft Teams.

From a medical point of view, dependence and addiction are synonymous: it describes an “unavoidable craving for a certain state of experience. The powers of the mind are subordinated to this desire. It impairs the free development of a personality and the social opportunities of an individual.” Addicts believe they have everything under control, but in fact they have lost control of themselves and their actions.

God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.

Sean Parker, former founding president of Facebook


Social Media Is Destroying Society, Youtube-Video, 5:49 min

Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life | Katherine Ormerod, TED, Youtube-Video, 6:49 min

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