Why the social media rabbit hole is so attractive

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Why the social media rabbit hole is so attractive

What makes social media so addicting? There is a plethora of subtle tactics that these apps use to keep us consumers engaged and glued to the screen. One of them, infinite scrolling, is a common navigation technique that I’m sure is playing a big role in our ability to procrastinate, one platform at a time.

The name infinite scrolling explains itself. Platforms such as Facebook are infamous for this feature, allowing the user to continue scrolling through new content with little to no effort nor end point. Dangerous right? I have a feeling these social media apps do this entirely on purpose to get us hooked forever, and I can personally attest to this. You name it: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest…even Snapchat has gotten on the infinite scrolling train with their new blog-like panel. Have you ever heard of anyone getting addicted to Google searches the same way we get addicted to Facebook? No, right? That’s because Google still uses a pagination format, which means that users have to click to the next page to view more content. 99% of the time, I don’t go past the first page of results for this very reason. But with infinite scrolling, the constant and effortless accumulation of things to read and see contributes to our hunger for more, waiting to see what we’ll find as we keep scrolling. We know it’s bad for us and oftentimes it’s not even that exciting, yet we still do it. Because this method is so effective, websites are starting to adopt a variation of infinite scrolling as well. It helps eliminate the need for visitors to click through various pages that take time to load in order to find the information they want. Infinite scrolling facilitates a simpler platform all while increasing the engagement of its user.

Effective? Heck yes. But is it ethical? It’s no doubt that it’s the company marketer’s job to increase engagement and consumer use. Infinite scrolling is a smart tactic, but is it worth the studying time and health it sucks out of its target? The scary part is that these platforms intentionally steal our undivided attention often without our realization. Social media companies feed into so much of our wasted time spent on their apps at the cost of our well being and more important moments in life. I’m not saying it’s their fault, but they definitely aren’t taking much social responsibility in making screen addiction any better. Should marketers and social media leaders be more conscious of their users’ well being, or does that responsibility fall solely on the consumer?


5 Comments

Samantha Forbes

Samantha Forbes

March 5, 2018at 3:14 pm

I find myself doing this all the time! I’ll get on Facebook to look something up and then I find myself scrolling and scrolling. The way Facebook is set up, it seems like there is an endless supply of new content. I liked how Instagram used to be set up where it showed the posts in chronological order, so that when I got to a certain point I could say, oh I’ve seen this picture so I’ve seen everything after this. It made it so there was a real end point in my scrolling.

Caitlin Glenn

Caitlin Glenn

March 5, 2018at 5:32 pm

This is a really interesting read. I hate to admit it, but for some reason I consistently find myself scrolling through the new Snapchat feed anytime I need to be doing anything productive. I definitely think that is due to the fact that there’s literally an infinite amount of content available. I’ve never really thought about this as an ethical dilemma, but your argument definitely makes sense. In my opinion, as long as we, as consumers, are susceptible enough to continue scrolling, we can’t really blame the marketers for capitalizing on this.

Kelly Pagano

Kelly Pagano

March 5, 2018at 5:57 pm

Really interesting article! This is pretty scary to think about, a wider adoption of infinite scrolling when it comes to all digital media. Infinite scrolling is no doubt a cause for the addictive nature of social media apps, and it is so easy to fall down the rabbit hole. I don’t know if this same concept would work across the board, but nevertheless I think it’s something marketers should consider in terms of the well being of consumers.

Tania Toledo Zavala

Tania Toledo Zavala

March 5, 2018at 6:43 pm

Great blog post! This is an issue that has gotten more attention over the years with the growing concern about screen addiction. It’s a very hard issue for companies and marketers to address because what is the right balance between promoting their product and prioritizing their consumers’ well-being?

Davis Gray

Davis Gray

March 6, 2018at 1:07 am

I do this exact same thing on Facebook all the time. As a matter of fact, I did it tonight before writing my blog post. With that said, I think it is up to the consumer to limit the amount of time spent on social media because it’s not the company’s fault. For example, if someone can’t stop eating a bag of Lay’s chips, it’s not Lay’s fault. They just make good chips like the social media platforms make good content.

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