We need physical interaction to release that flow of oxytocin in our body. Even though we have access to hundreds of friends on social media with the ability to contact them within seconds, yes, we’re hitting the 3 points of the Pleasure Triangle but despite conserving energy, this illusion of connection doesn’t change our biochemistry. We are not receiving the warm hug of oxytocin that is so heavily embedded in our core needs as humans.
You can see that as the radius of our bubble of comfort has decreased over time, it has detached us further from our human need for connection, not only disturbing the release of oxytocin but also removing many of us from our sense of purpose.
Social media and communication through technology has not only given us an illusion of connection, it’s also given us an illusion of competition. Because technology has widened our scope to a larger community, it has opened up our potential network to more than 3 billion people online. It has also raised our expectations.
In a society 50,000 years ago, living in a tribe of 100-150, if we were to remove the extreme ages we’d have a finite selection of potential partners, so chances are you’d think of yourself as a pretty attractive person! For a teenager today, social media allows us to compare the mundane moments of our own lives to the photoshopped highlight reels of people around the world.
It’s much easier to feel inadequate in today’s society than compared to our ancestors. Modelling agencies find the most gorgeous people on the planet and unveil them before our eyes consistently on billboards, televisions and through social media exposing us constantly to unrealistic standards of beauty.
Everyday millions of companies are competing for our attention. Frequently they use scare tactics to make us buy their products, raise our expectations and barrage us with so called better ways to fit into our community.
We are being given a subconscious message on repeat that we’re not enough and we don’t belong… not yet anyway. To be approved by your community, buy this car! To be approved by your community and fit in, have a peachy perfect bum! To mean anything in this community and earn the approval of your peers, get this phone!
Suddenly we’ve created something popularly referred to as FOMO, the fear of missing out. What is FOMO really, other than the fear of losing connection to the community? If you woke up one day and there was no one else on this planet, you were completely alone without competition or connection. Would you have the same goals? Would you still want the fast car and the same house and job? Being the only person alive you could have all those things. You could have every car, move to a new mansion every day. But wouldn’t something feel different?
It shouldn’t be unsurprising that people in modern society are suffering from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and body issues; when day to day we’re being told on repeat that we’re not good enough.
Feeling alienated from our tribe is one of the greatest ways to kick our biochemistry out of balance.
Remember the emotional centre in our mind can’t tell the difference between fiction and reality. By being jacked-in to a virtual world where everyone seems healthy, happy and everyone is enough but us, we are given unrealistic expectations and have built a false reality that has created a real symptom of low self-esteem. We’re bombarded by these images and messages constantly, and we forget the truth that 25% of people we meet are suffering from a mental health disorder and 35% are obese.