Our current era of high anxiety has been fed directly by our addiction to social media. It has given social media hackers and experts all the fuel they need to exploit and manipulate an entire culture in ways we would laugh at a generation or two ago.
In a chilling interview, Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, explained those early years like this:
The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them… was all about: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” … And that means we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments … It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. — The Coddling of the American Mind, p. 147