And we all know that today’s news and social media have no shortage of characters to incite these feelings. With limited time and patience, and new sources of public communicating, how we share information (tell stories) has changed. However, researchers contend that with strong bonds and safe environments, teens learn to control their impulsive and reactionary responses. All humans require attention, and getting our needs as a social species met is important for happiness. What Happens To Your Brain? According to Psychology Today, “Experiencing social defeat also changes the brain's pleasure response.” And like other forms of addiction, both pleasure and pain can be derived from our social media interactions, as well as the cacophony of conflicting and validating information that drives our reactions. Consequently, cortisol, nature’s built in alarm system, alters or shuts down normal bodily functions that get “in the way” of our ability to be on high alert. Naturally, since drama uses the same mechanisms in the brain as opiates, people can easily become addicted to drama. Is it the person who shared it, or that the information strongly validates or refutes something you believe? Not the social media ones.
The field of neuroscience has a decent grasp on many of the ways our brain develops, processes stimuli and reacts to the world around us. But with each passing day, that world becomes noisier, more cluttered and chaotic. The fast paced, 24-hour news cycles, never-ending streams of competing ideas, and pings of devices are surely taking their toll. But the research is limited and in its infancy.
Despite this, we are well aware that understanding and manipulating human behavior has been a motivation of recent events targeting political elections through social media. So, what is it that these entities seem to know about the human brain that others don’t? The answer may be, not much. But what they do know – and easily exploit – is how strong the reaction to conflict and drama can be. And while individuals are supposed to learn emotional regulation, impulse control, and improved decision-making as they age, we may not be learning these skills as teenagers anymore – and the social repercussions are everywhere.
Accordingly, social media engagements appear to get uglier as we become more dramatic. But what can we do to stop the vicious cycle of conflict and drama? First, is having a better appreciation for how our brains processes information received. And second, is actively working to be a better communicator given the pitfalls of today’s society. Here are some of the keys to understanding how we got here, and how to get your personal growth on track:
Why Do We Love Drama?
- Our brains love storytelling. Whether it’s viewing a play, reading a fiction book, watching a movie or trying to sell a product to a client, character-driven stories change and shape our brains. Science suggests they, “tie strangers together, and move us to be more empathic and generous,” through the release of hormones, primarily oxytocin which is linked to both bonding behaviors and stress. And we all know that today’s news and social media have no shortage of characters to incite these feelings.
- With limited time and patience, and new sources of public communicating, how we share information (tell stories) has changed. On the positive side, we’ve seen the rise of TED Talks, well-rehearsed short stories that teach us something about ourselves. On the negative side, there are increased interactions on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that read like teenage drama filled with misinformation.
- In fact, developmental psychology literature contends that “drama” is another way of saying there is a lack of social and emotional skills. And, that there is a social-emotional disconnect. However, researchers contend that with strong bonds and safe environments, teens learn to control their impulsive and reactionary responses.
- All humans require attention, and getting our needs as a social species met is important for happiness. But 24/7 access to social media has given way to excess attention seeking behaviors, many of which psychologists believe…