Fear of Tik Tok (or: Facing a Budding Addiction)

What marks an addiction?

A long time ago in my general psychology class, I learned that three characteristics of addiction, whether physical or emotional, were dependence, habituation, and withdrawal. Dependence means going back to the drug or behavior repeatedly, needing that “reward” (a physical sensation in the case of drugs, a psychological boost of brain chemicals for non-drug items). Habituation means getting used to the dose (psychologically or physically) and wanting more, and withdrawal means feeling tension or even physical symptoms when away from the stimulus (again psychologically or physically) From there, continuing the drug or behavior despite bad effects to one’s life, cements the addiction.

There are various psychological addictions that follow this path: gambling, television, and, as it turns out, Tik Tok.

Tik Tok?

I am dealing with the beginnings of the addiction response in my relationship with Tik Tok. Although I’ve only been there a month, and watching content for about a week, I have found myself scrolling through my For You page a few times a day.

My behavior shows:

  • Habituation, as it takes more and more content to satisfy me;
  • Withdrawal, as I feel figuratively itchy when I put the phone down.

I’m missing the dependence, the actual part where I continue despite bad effects. This is mostly because I recognize when the process is happening and break the habituation.

The almighty algorithm

Tik Tok’s “algorithm” makes the app more addictive. Although nobody but Tik Tok knows the exact algorithm, users believe that the app provides you with more content in areas where the user lingers in. In other words, if a reader watches certain content all the way through, they will get more of that content, thus boosting dependence. And since the viewer is watching more and more of the same thing, habituation develops.

What saved me

I tend to get frustrated with passive pursuits like television and Tik Tok. No amount of habituation gets past the fact that I’m not doing anything. I like making things happen, and Tik Tok isn’t going to make that happen. I get bored lately, and the content algorithm of Tik Tok doesn’t deliver new content (like educational content) to keep me occupied.

So I think I’ll put Tik Tok up on the shelf for a while and let it tick without me.

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