Social media companies are deliberately addicting you to their products for financial gain. Behind every screen on your phone, there are generally a thousand engineers that have worked to try to make it maximally addicting. Innovation keeps you looking at your phone far longer than necessary.
Addiction is defined as a harmful, persistent, and compulsive dependency to a behavior or substance. If your actions come to fulfill a deep need, you can not do without them, and you begin to pursue them while neglecting other aspects of your life, then you have developed a behavioral addiction.
But unlike other vices, addiction implies self-inflicted damage. Simply doing something a lot, like checking Facebook or watching television, would not qualify as addiction unless the user has difficulty stopping the activity.
We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge eating and opioid abuse. Sugar can be as habit-forming as cocaine and social media, dating and online shopping apps are hooking our kids. But what can we do to resist temptations that insidiously and deliberately rewire our brains.
It is worth stepping back and asking how technological innovation and the deliberate programming of addiction have come to be so closely linked. In earlier days, inventions were not intended to create some kind of habit in their users. They were about progress, creating a new comfort or efficiency.
But today products emerging from the World’s mightiest tech firms are geared toward getting people to do things they might not otherwise do. The best minds of today’s generation are thinking about how to make people addicted, to make tem click ads.
The deeper reason for this is an enormous shift in the business models of the high-tech industry. Companies are moving away from the creation of rewarding technologies for Human enhancement and toward technologies meant to lure people to devote large amounts of time and attention to them – think Facebook. For a product like Facebook, success and user addiction are the same thing.