How does social media’s effect on the human brain impact crisis management?
When discussing social media outrage we often refer to the quick “hit” users get from posting anything that draws attention online. Well, it turns out that for many humans a “hit” of social media action releases an awful lot of the reward chemical dopamine into their brains (yes, the same dopamine which is released in heavy doses by many forms of drug use), which leads to a pattern of repeating a potentially negative behavior far more often than is healthy. An infographic published by Digital Information World exposed some concerning stats about social media use, including:
- Tweeting may be harder for people to resist than cigarettes and alcohol.
- 60% of females described themselves as addicted to social media.
- 50% of users surveyed said using social networks actually made their lives worse.
Knowing social media users are actively encouraged by their own brain chemistry to have a reason to post helps to frame the patterns of online negativity that often grow wildly out of proportion to the issue at hand in a crisis. Unfortunately, the conclusion is not a happy one for those caught in the crosshairs of a social media crisis. If humans feel good when they post, and even better when those posts get attention, then they have plenty of motivation to amplify any minor situation in order to receive more of those dopamine hits.
You can catch the rest of the Digital Information World infographic below.
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]