To Scroll or Not to Scroll, That is the Problem

Weighing the Psychological Weight of Social Media


Graphic made by Solah Han.

Jerome Kwon, Jade Lee, and Solah Han

Sing to me of youth, o internet, the youth who talks and walks, driven time and again off course, once who had wandered through the twisted maze of social media.

— Jerome’s parody of Homer’s Odyssey

Social media has been greatly increasing its impacts among the youth around the worldㅡand for the worse on some occasions. Teens find themselves addicted to their screens and the rates of loneliness are skyrocketing more than ever. As Aristotle once famously stated, Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human.” While his claim has stayed true for decades on end, it still doesn’t answer the root of the problem: Why?

There are two possible answers to this question, but one of them could be explained with the effects of dopamine; a type of neurotransmitter that gives one pleasure. Dopamine has been proven to be produced when a person uses social media, but it is also created when the desires of a person are acted out. Playing video games, drinking alcohol, smoking, or even shopping excessively to satisfy consumerist urges can all increase dopamine levels within one’s system. Continuously feeding the need to check every single notification on your phone increases dopamine levels, which in turn, also increases your addiction. 

It may seem obvious, but there is nothing that is physically beneficial from spending hours on end scrolling through a feed. Nevertheless, we may find the answer to this mystery with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Belongingness and love needs, which are the third primary human necessities, require that humans need to feel inclusion amongst an intimate group. With the pandemic and isolation requirements increasing around the world day by day, the desire to reach this third level may be proof of how social media is so stimulating when used. In fact, because of COVID, many people satisfy their need to belong like so:

Graphic made by Jade Lee.

Ultimately, understanding the root of the issue may help de-glue your eyes from the screen you endlessly scroll so often. The next time you catch yourself being hyper-active on social media, you should ask yourself why you feel so attached to the multiple “mutuals” you follow on social media that you barely know in real life; Is it because you genuinely feel a connection? Or is it to satisfy a need?

But after I had reached a addiction’s root, At that point where the personality terminated, Which had with social media pierced one’s heart.

— Jerome’s parody of Dante’s Inferno