It is no secret that many Americans, including teenagers, are dependent on their cell phones. Several social media platforms that send us multiple daily notifications are not helpful. They may seem harmless, but these notifications have a lasting effect on us. Although there can be an unlikely medium: virtual reality.
Dangerous feedback loops
Social media can affect our self-esteem negatively or positively. This is largely due to how cyclical social media has become. We publish photos or status and expect Likes. After the Likes wane, we republish and look for positive feedback from our online friends.
"The short-term feedback loops we've created, based on dopamine, are disrupting the way society works: no civil discourse, no collaboration, misinformation, falsehood," said Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice president of Facebook. While this may seem a bit harsh, more and more Americans are suffering from disorders such as anxiety, depression and more due to the use of social media.
Quantitative Vs. Qualitative interactions
Social media can be so devastating to our psyche because of their quantity. "In a direct face-to-face interaction, everything is qualitative," said Lauren Sherman, a researcher who has studied the impact of social media engagement on adolescents. "You use someone's gestures or facial expressions to see how effective your message is, and when you go online, you can rate the effectiveness of your message based on, among other things, the number of likes, favorites or retweets."
This quantitative feedback also explains why we review our phones so often. "The rewards are what psychologists call variable delivery plans, and they're key to social media users who repeatedly review their screens," said Mark Griffiths, a professor of behavioral supplementation at Nottingham Trent University.
An unsuspecting solution
While the technology may have triggered most problems in the area Social mediaIt can also help to fix it. For example, virtual reality may contain a key to reviving the missing qualitative interactions.
"What VR does is it takes away all the gadgets, it takes away the multitasking and you really feel like somebody," says Jeremy Bailenson, director of Stanford Virtual human interaction labexplained. "We call this social presence – you see their emotions, you see their gestures and it feels like you are in the room with them, it takes something that is normally perceived as something emotional and distant, and it feels like as if someone was with you. "Yes, we will probably check our phones frequently in the near future and look for such likes and comments. But the virtual reality world, closer than ever, can give us something we've always been looking for in social media.