Science figures it out: "social media's addictive loop compels users to share mindlessly"

Frequent users of social media become "desensitized to positive feedback, such as likes and comments," sending them into an addictive loop where their sense of well-being depends on getting the next rush of "engagement." A study out of the University of Southern California-Dornsife confirms what's well-known anecdotally: being online makes you online.

What was once a conscious choice transforms into automatic, almost impulsive action. … Despite public health experts raising concerns about the negative impact on mental health and overall well-being, particularly among young users, a significant majority of Americans — 70%, according to Pew Research — still find themselves drawn to their apps daily, some even hourly.

Psychology researchers Wendy Wood and Ian Anderson at USC Dornsife compared posting rates of frequent, habitual users with those of infrequent, nonhabitual users. They wanted to know if those groups' rates varied in response to the reactions and comments they received from others. The research was published online earlier this year in Motivation Science.

It's not fair to say we lost a generation of writers who thought they had to drin—sorry, Tweet to be successful, but they have written an awful lot of crap they didn't get paid for.