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Junk food for the brain? Or harmless fun.



Its harmless isn't it? A simple website that connects you to old friends, enables you to make new ones? Surly this is the social answer that so many people need from the genral disconnect of modern life. We all have a facebook accounts but how many of us can really claim that any sense of isolation or alienation is a thing of the past or has even been minimized? 

A study carried out for the Freie university in Berlin examined the effects on subjects using facebook utilizing MRI technology and showed how the brain was stimulated depending on what was happening in the course of using facebook. When the subjects got a "like" on a comment or picture they posted the positives effects on the brain were comparable to someone receiving a generous gift, such was the joy experienced. The details of the study continued to show this kind of stimulation and concluded that this is, in effect , how people becoming addicted to using social media. What it also showed was that the quality of these relationships on facebook were usually very poor, the subjects had their 4 or 5 individuals (roughly) that they interacted with strongly, but they admitted they probably would anyway such was their familiarity and proximity, they tended to be close friends. But the quality of relations outside of this "inner circle" showed to be no stronger than interaction with people one might liaise with for a few second at a bus stop or on an aeroplane. What this reveals is what, I suspect , most people already know and that is that facebook is by in large a fallacy in the social spectrum, merely a way of enabling one to present the life they wish they had (lots of friends and social experiences) and filter out all the harshities and shortcomings. 

It comes back to the issue of what is it really for? The study concludes that while its a useful tool as an enabler it should not be a platform on which to live or even base your stronger social existence in. For example of its effectiveness try messaging someone you haven't seen or spoken to on your facebook in a few years and see what kind of response you get ? If the Berlin study is right it will probably be cool to non existent, and this from someone parading under the title "friend". The conclusion has to be that Facebook is like junk food, it feels good while your eating it but ultimately it's unsatisfying and leaves you feeling empty.


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