Why You Have No Motivation
You’ve probably already seen lots of videos talking about how social media can create unrealistic expectations when it comes to beauty, material wealth, and even happiness, or how social media encourages endless procrastination, which comes at the cost of our motivation, but as I’m about to show you in this video, it’s so much worse than that.
It may seem like we’re just innocently scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, but on a neurochemical level, what’s happening is that our motivation is being directed away from the long term rewards that we experience when we work hard, learn new abilities, or improve our health, and instead directed towards more consumption of social media.
If you consume social media in any amount, and you struggle with motivation, this video will make it clear why that’s happening by covering the 3 main reasons.
And at the very end of the video, I’ll show you how I ‘m able to instead maintain extremely high levels of motivation with everything I do.
1. Social media is a dopamine machine
If you struggle with any sort of motivation related issue, procrastination, drugs, sex or masturbation, if you feel more motivated towards those things than you do towards getting work done and improving yourselves, then you need to understand how dopamine works.
Dopamine is the neurochemical that our bodies release to motivate us towards the things that it believes are important for our survival. When we’re hungry, our brain releases dopamine to motivate us to go find food, if it didn’t, we would starve to death. Literally, when scientists stopped the release of dopamine in mice, it caused the mice to stop eating altogether, they just sat there, doing absolutely nothing.
Now, here’s the problem: dopamine is a component in our reward system, which has hardly evolved since prehistoric times, meanwhile, technology, like social media, is evolving at an exponential rate.
For most of human history, social acceptance was a critical element of human survival, in case you haven’t noticed, humans are kind of lame, we can’t run particularly fast, we don’t have sharp fangs, if I fell off this stool I’d probably break something. These days, we can get away with being loners, but in prehistoric times, social acceptance was critical for survival, to have low standing within a tribe was bad, but to be kicked out of a tribe was basically a death sentence.
Everytime we engage social media this tribal dynamic is being played out, when we post something, the likes and comments we receive are interpreted by our prehistoric brains as validation of our position within the hierarchy of the tribe, which is why lots of likes make us feel great, while just a few likes makes us feel, not great.
Everytime we leave a like or drop a comment, it’s because we feel a sense that we’re adding value to the relationship and reinforcing closeness, this also creates reciprocity, by liking other people’s posts, it’s been proven that we significantly increase the likelihood that they’ll like our posts in return. Social media spends hundreds of millions of dollars to understand all of this, so that it can hijack our dopamine system to motivate us to consume ever-more social media.
This is why, for example, when we post something, everyone who follows us won’t see the post immediately, instead, social media throttles the number of people who see the post to spread engagement out over a 48+ hour period to get the maximum impact with respect to our reward system. It’s like an IV drip of small rewards that can quickly become the principal reward we feel motivation towards.
2. Social media is a supernormal stimuli
According to the book Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose by Diedre Barrett from Harvard University,
“Supernormal stimuli are any stimuli that elicit an instinctual reaction more strongly than does the stimulus for which the instinct evolved.
The essence of the supernormal stimulus is that the exaggerated imitation of an actual, natural instinct can exert a stronger pull than the real thing”
Porn is a supernormal stimuli of reproduction, junk food is a supernormal stimuli of real food, video games are supernormal stimuli of hunting, gathering, and socializing, and social media is a supernormal stimuli of tribes and tribal dynamics, everything we covered in the first section.
In prehistoric times, we competed in much smaller tribes, usually consisting of around 25 to 150 people, our digital “social media hierarchies” on the other hand, often consist of thousands of people, everyone from weird friends we haven’t talked to in 10 years, to celebrities and billionaires, often thousands of people.
And the rule of any hierarchy, is that we are in competition with everyone in that hierarchy, competition means comparison, and whether we realize it or not, every single post we read or photo we consume, we’re actually comparing, if the difference is small, then we feel happy because that indicates that we have a good position, but if the difference is big, we feel unhappy, because this indicates that we have a low position, and the more unhappy we feel with respect to our position, the less motivated we feel to improve our position because we feel like the task is far too great for our ability, which brings us to point #3.
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3. Social media vastly exceeds our cognitive threshold
British anthropologist Robin Dunbar observed that the brain size of primates had a significant correlation with how large their societies typically grew, by plugging in the numbers to correlate with the average brain size of humans, he came up with the number 150, Dunbar’s Number, the cognitive limit to the number of meaningful relationships one person can maintain.
una persona puede mantener.
But in summary, having more than 150 friends causes a cognitive overload that reduces our ability to operate optimally.
Social media often connects us to thousands of people, which is way beyond our cognitive threshold and severely impairs our ability to operate at optimal levels. Our Social Network is itself a hierarchy, and it’s probably the one that has the most influence within our lives, when it becomes too large or too varied, we feel less motivation to climb it because we feel overwhelmed by it, usually in the form of anxiety, or feeling that we’re lost or in a situation that’s hopeless because of how small and insignificant we feel when considered within the massive scale of our hierarchy.
Social networks represent social interaction on a scale that we never evolved to manage efficiently or effectively.
So, to recap.
For anyone looking to maximize motivation levels, you should limit not only your use of, but your access to, social media, as much as possible.
Here’s a quick summary of the 3 reasons why:
1. Social media is a dopamine machine.
Our brain perceives using social media as a necessary act of survival, and so releases dopamine to motivate us to continue using it, every single thing that we do on social media, from merely viewing photos to giving and receiving likes produces a small ‘reward hit’ that over time, is like being hooked up to an IV drip.
The longer we stay on the drip, the more our body rewires our brain to direct our dopamine to consume more social media, which is why we have less motivation for everything else.
2. Social media is a form of supernormal stimuli.
Social media is a supernormal stimuli of tribal dynamics, prehistoric tribes were very small, while social media puts us into tribes of thousands of people.
With every single post we read or photo we view – we compare ourselves – and a lot of what causes us to scroll endlessly through instagram is actually a subconscious compulsion to understand our position within the tribe.
3. Social media defies dunbar’s number
Dunbar’s Number explains that humans have the cognitive capacity to maintain relationships with a maximum of 150 people, while social media often connects us to thousands of people, which is way beyond our cognitive threshold and severely impair our ability to operate at optimal levels.
Our Social Network is itself a hierarchy, and it’s probably the one that has the most influence within our lives, when it becomes too large or too varied, we feel less motivation to climb it because we feel overwhelmed by it.
Hey guys, so in my case, social media is still a very tricky thing for me to manage, I only really use Instagram, where I’ve reduced the size of my digital hierarchy from thousands of people, to now only following 150, if I want to share a post or a story I’ll usually just send it to Sebastian, who I hired to manage all of my social stuff, and broadly speaking, I keep instagram uninstalled on my phone, and only install it if I really want to post something myself, or respond to comments.
Making these videos on dopamine and reading as many studies and scientific literature as I have at this point has given me an amazing understanding of dopamine and how it ties into our motivation systems, knowing what I know, when I feel lack of motivation, I now that it’s not because I’m lazy, no human is inherently lazy, there is always a cause, and for our generation, the cause is almost always social media.
When I feel lack of motivation, I figure out what’s syphoning away my motivation and I completely restrict my access to it, While at the same time forcing myself to sit down and do productive work, within a few hours I almost always feel more energy and motivation, after a full day I feel like a new man.
If you have any issues with motivation, learn everything you can about dopamine, there are lots of videos on this channel to help you there.
If you want to check out a productivity system that will completely realign your dopaminergic systems, check out Dark Mode.
You can follow me out on instagram @NelsonQuest, we are really picking up steam there. I’m almost at at the level of a moderately attractive female but still well below that 100k celebrity status mark that I need to feel validation within my hierarchy.
This is the path.
I’ll see you guys in the next post.
de Lenne, Orpha & Vandenbosch, Laura & Eggermont, Steven & Karsay, Kathrin & Trekels, Jolien. (2018). Picture-perfect lives on social media: a cross-national study on the role of media ideals in adolescent well-being. Media Psychology. 23. 1-27.
DeWall, C. & Bushman, Brad. (2011). Social Acceptance and Rejection: The Sweet and the Bitter. Current Directions in Psychological Science – CURR DIRECTIONS PSYCHOL SCI. 20. 256-260. 10.1177/0963721411417545.