It’s a “Social Validation Feedback Loop”
In a recent interview, Sean Parker, founding president of Facebook and once co-founder of Napster had shocking news to reveal. He considers himself a “conscientious objector” of social media, and since he no longer holds any ties to the company, he had no qualms in admonishing it.
Sean Parker was the first president of Facebook, and one of its founding members. He knows the nitty gritty of how the website was created, and what tactics it used to manipulate and lock users into using it. According to Parker, “The thought process that went into building these applications… was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’”
Parker continued to elaborate, calling Facebook a “social validation feedback loop”. Features such as likes and comments were created as a way to suck people deeper into the site, into the loop. Parker and Zuckerberg knew that they were exploiting a flaw in the human psyche in order to increase their exposure and business, yet, according to Parker, they “did it anyway.”
Parker states that the addicting and validating nature of Facebook “literally changes your relationship with society, with each other”, and with 2 billion currently active users worldwide, Parker worries about the future, specifically whether or not social media giants like Facebook have had a major impact on human productivity and development.
Parker’s “whistle blow” calls to attention the other social media giants dominating our daily lives. Instagram counted an active user base of 800 million in 2017, and Twitter 330 million in the same year. Both of these social media services are designed to keep users coming back for more, so it isn’t unbelievable to think that their business models mirror Facebook’s. If that is so, that means another 1 billion people and counting are getting sucked into the social validation feedback loop. With the advent and continued development of smartphone technology, it’s also becoming cheaper and easier to have these social media services on you at all times. It is very possible to be stuck in the loop daily, constantly connected every minute of the day. Parker’s quote seems poignant, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”