Remember back in the day when Vine was the new thing and for the first time ever, videos were a mere six seconds long and in that short time, they got right to the point? We thought life couldn’t get any better. If you weren’t born yet or weren’t quite the internet savvy human you are today, Vine was a social network platform that allowed users to upload six-second videos that played on a loop, and at the time we all thought Vine was the greatest, funniest thing ever to hit the web because up until this point, YouTube was our source of video entertainment. Vine eventually fizzled out, unfortunately, we might add, fast-forward a few years and enter a little app we know as TikTok.
There’s a really good chance that since the pandemic hit you’ve noticed yourself getting on this app more frequently than probably any app ever before. And we get it, you open the app thinking you’ll just scroll for a few minutes and before you know it, it’s hours later and you have nothing to show for your time. But why? Why have these videos that are just mere seconds of cringe taken over our lives and any second of spare time we may get in a day? Well, there are a few reasons.
(image via: usa today)
The attention span of a human is really short like we’re talking ten seconds short, which is right around the attention span a goldfish has. Yeah, a goldfish. And how long are most TikTok videos? Mere seconds. Just long enough to hold our attention before we swipe up to the next video. And the next, and the next.
Watching videos that give us even the tiniest bit of information or show us something interesting that we consider a necessity triggers a little reward system in our minds, and that reward system is triggered by a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, and dopamine is what mediates pleasure in our brains. And what does our brain want once it’s received a little bit of dopamine? A whole lot more, hence the scrolling.
(image via: recovery ranch)
Then over on the technical side of things, TikTok has an infamous algorithm so once it knows what you like to see, you’re going to see more and more of it, ya know, to keep you hooked. So not only is your brain just living for the ‘For You’ page, but the app itself is making sure you’re liking what you’re seeing. It’s a perfect storm of you getting what you think you need or want.
If you’re ashamed by your screen time numbers, we promise, we’ve all been there. But we can also assure you there is a whole wide world to explore beyond the screen of your phone and your ‘For You’ page, so get out there and do something great!