If there is one thing teenagers love these days, it’s getting new notifications. This is especially true when it’s coming from someone you care deeply about. Notifications heighten our self-worth, are how we know someone is listening to us and caring about what we have to say. They’re essentially the other half of a conversation. You put an idea out there, and someone responds to it. You post a vacation photo; someone comments on it. You write a status update; someone likes it. Being ignored in a conversation in real life sucks, and being ignored online sucks just the same. Still, no matter who reacts to what we post online, there is likely one special person who is your favorite. That someone who makes you smile a little bigger or blush a little harder when you see a new notification from them.
We all truly crave the validation that comes from someone liking a photo on social media or sending us a message. In fact, one consumer survey reported that 62 percent of adults felt better about themselves after getting positive reactions to what they shared on social media. That’s a huge percentage! But a notification doesn’t always indicate a positive answer; it simply indicates an answer. Notifications can represent a wide range of types of responses – and then, within that response, a wide range of emotions. What if the notification is something negative? Is it worse to get a negative response, or no response at all? We all simply want to be recognized. And a negative response can actually create similar opportunities for seeking that recognition. Negative responses can seem worse to some people, but that’s usually only if it’s a valid complaint.
Every notification is a possible interaction opportunity, so every time we cater to that little (1), we get a hit of dopamine, which recharges our addictive compulsion to social media and our cell phones. You think you feel excited over the (1)? Try letting them pile up to (10) and see what it’s like. Your life will change!