Why are we so superficial

Digital! Social media - more superficial than social

By Anne Frieda Müller

Photo: Leo Wegener
Social media should strengthen and simplify social interaction. But I don't think that they keep this promise - I am far more of the opinion that the use of social platforms puts us under enormous pressure, which we would not have without them.

Humans are social beings, but you can't always see everything. This feeling is uncomfortable. Experts also call this FOMO - “fear of missing out”, the fear of missing out on something. Behavioral scientist Dan Ariely explains the phenomenon as fear that you have made the wrong decision: You regret not going to the coolest party, the funniest event and missing the best experience. Because every day you can find out where the best party was on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Everyone has the opportunity to present themselves on social networks. Errors are not mentioned or retouched. We all look good and have fun online. That's why there is increasing pressure to be perfect, have fun 24/7, and hang out with great people. From day to day, hour to hour. Every day life has to be shared, every day has to be more exciting. More and more fun, more and more action. Routine or everyday life no longer seems to exist - must no longer exist.

Whether Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp - according to the motto "Pics or it didn’t happen!" everything has to be shared and shown everywhere. Apparently everyone wants to know what others have just achieved.
But does it make sense for your own development to watch people go on their greatest, fluffy adventures while you are at home in your own bed? Instead, you could meet up with friends yourself, without smartphones and pressure to tell the whole world how great it was. Have we forgotten everyday life and normality?

I think being social has changed. On the one hand, I don't want to miss anything so that I can better weigh up my decisions for the future. On the other hand, I want to share everything so that my friends can be part of the action. But this calculation doesn't work out, instead I get a guilty conscience.

Every day I am shown what I haven't done today, what I seem to be missing. From products to delicious food to vacations that I can't afford. This makes me feel guilty without being guilty of anything.

The reason for this lies in the permanent use of social media, because their mechanisms are designed to provide me with new stimuli and text and images that I don't want to miss.

Pictures play a special role because we humans are visual beings. Because we perceive danger fastest with our eyes, we instinctively react more strongly to visual stimuli than to words, for example. This is also noticeable in social media: images are becoming more important, detailed texts are taking a back seat. Instead, keywords simply generate quick reactions. As many reactions as possible. Here, too, the stimulus-response scheme is terrifyingly effective:
What is being discussed by everyone, I want to take part in the discussion. The algorithms of social media, in turn, try to show us above all what, according to our past interaction, we probably want to see in the future. This creates a filter bubble: we only see what interests us. Think critically about it, hear other opinions - there is no longer anything like that. What we put on the network comes out again.

Social media live from our attention, from the time we spend with the platforms. Accordingly, our interactions are shaped by emotions: The share button is often used for sad news and the comment function to let off one's anger. But liking is still the easiest, most widely used tool.

With every heart and thumb my happiness, my joy, the feeling of confirmation increases. We enjoy positive self-expression. Dopamine is released in the brain. We horny ourselves on the fame and get downright addicted to social media. With every new friend, with every new friend, my reach, my desire for more, increases. But it also increases my FOMO, my fear of missing out. And so I seem to be trapped in a bubble of virtual happiness.

I wish that we would spend less time trying to distinguish ourselves on the internet and that there would be more time to actually have a good time together.