# Day 300 (So tell me again, why are we on Facebook??)

Hubby : Did you go through the details sent by the travel agent for the Europe trip?
Me : Ooops! That slipped my mind…will just go through it…

What happens thereafter is an occurrence many of us can identify with (or at least that’s the comfort i draw from similar stories shared by friends!). You pick up the phone to do the assigned task and there on the home screen, next to the icon with the letter ’f’ (am sure the irony of that alphabet is not lost on any!!) is a number inside a tiny red circle. That number can cast a magical spell so powerful that inspite of your best intentions you forget the task you picked up the phone for and are sucked into that other universe ~ the world of Facebook! Suddenly you are checking out those notifications to see who posted what as a ‘status-update’, who shared and tagged their latest ‘photos’ or even who liked or commented on your friend’s ‘check-in’ at the newest diner in town. Then you find yourself compulsively adding your own likes and comments or even sharing what you have really liked, and by the end of it all you have generally forgotten what you had picked up the device for in the first place!

So what exactly is the lure of this online communication platform? Why do we interact like crazy, at times spending our entire free time, without really understanding why we do what we do on Facebook?? What is it that we derive from those activities within that digital world that keeps us going back for more? Once you start looking for answers to such questions you discover that there is no dearth of research and theories by psychologists, researchers, marketing analysts and even newspapers and other such publications specifically on the Facebook phenomenon. If you remember, even it’s early years were chronicled in that book which later got immortalised in the movie by the same name, “The Social Network.” In the beginning many had felt that Facebook was a little ‘childish’ offering little or no intellectual stimulation (some still feel the same) and that once the initial “wow” factor faded and the novelty wore off, its content would become boring and repetitive. Still others had wagered that it could never be anything more than a “glorified dating site.” And yet what began as a hobby project in the dorms of Harvard in 2004, soon drifted along on some strong global digital winds and today has over a billion daily-active-users (the official figure for Jan 2016 is 1.038 billion). Needless to say such things don’t just happen accidentally—there has to be a science and psychology behind such phenomenon–‘a method to our Facebook madness.’

Indeed, many studies have sought to understand how an idea to link students —it was to be a technological replacement for a college directory and messages left on student doors — has evolved into being a digital platform as feature rich and as widely used as Facebook. Perhaps one of its greatest attractions (the one which made it a global addiction according to some) has been the ’Newsfeed’ feature with all its ‘stories.’ We all love those stories and even more the chance to like, comment and share them. To ask why we care to scroll through all those updates is almost like asking why do people want to talk and communicate with others! Us humans are social beings who like to connect with the rest of the world and Facebook just helped us enlarge our connectedness through the virtual medium. An article i read claimed that a recent study had discovered a strong connection between Facebook and the brain’s reward centre~the area of the brain that processes rewarding feelings about things like social acceptance. Another study recorded physiological reactions like pupil dilation in volunteers as they browsed their Facebook accounts to conclude that it can evoke what is called ‘flow-state’—the feeling you get when you are totally and happily engrossed in a project or a new skill. Most of us don’t really need a study to tell us that it taps into our brain’s pleasure centre ~ ’Facebook-happiness’ is what we return to again and again…

(Just as an afterthougt…you even have new buttons now for more addictive reactions!!)



About sunsur81

A gatherer of thoughts...exploring myths,metaphors and expressions of life...
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