Nicole Marie: Social Media and Dopamine Are Causing Us to Lose a Generation

Social media, as you may have heard, can be just as addictive as alcohol or illegal drugs. “Viewing it, interacting with people on it, and seeing the number of likes on your page can release dopamine, a chemical in your brain that allows you to feel pleasure,” says Nicole Marie, aka Niki, a popular model and online influencer. “It is actually very powerful, and it’s getting more attention these days because of the number of millennials who use social media as substitutes for deep, meaningful relationships. We have an entire generation that grew up finding personal pleasure via social media, and it’s having harmful impacts on their relationships as adults and careers.”  

Niki asks this question: “Given that dopamine is the same chemical that is released when we drink, gamble, smoke, or do a plethora of other guilty pleasures, all of which have age restrictions, why is it that there are no age-restrictions on social media, for the most part?”

It is particularly serious for millennials, who got used to using social media for social pleasure during their childhood and teen years. “You had these depressed teenagers going through life in their angst years being told that if life got a little too depressing, they could have instant gratification and an instant release of dopamine into their system with just a few clicks of a button. And, that is completely unfettered and unchecked. Given the fact that dopamine is already highly addictive, don’t you think that has some ramifications for this generation, and for any generation, for that matter?”

How is this relevant to the growth of our society today? Niki says that there are studies that have shown that most people who have an addictive personality as an adult developed it when they were teenagers or even before. “So, these pre-pubescents and teenagers were dealing with a high-stress time in their lives, and parents were giving them a toy that gave them access to immediately having a release of dopamine. In some cases, parents gave them access to it when they were as young as five years old.” 

Do you know what happens to a child who has access to this technology and learns that it gives them an instant release of dopamine, Niki asks. “They use it. Wouldn’t you use it? Of course you would. We all would.”

Niki remembers that her own childhood was very different. She was born in 1980, the last year of the Gen X generation, but grew up with Gen Z. “When I was growing up, we didn’t have access to anything that gave us that instant release of dopamine. We didn’t have social media in the 80s or in the 90s. We had other things we could do. Readily accessible and socially accepted uses of something that created instant dopamine like social media were not available to us.”

She recalls that the worst thing she and her friends would do was sneak down and smoke a cigarette on a Friday night. “So, as we became teenagers, we had to find ourselves, and as we started to grow apart from our parents, we started to build friendships outside of our immediate homes. That is a great source of pain for parents, and it is absolutely necessary for us to grow into adults.”

Those friendships came with a lot of trouble. “There was a lot of drama and lots of backstabbing, trials, and tribulations, but it was an absolutely necessary part of growing up because it taught my friends and me how to build long-term, meaningful friendships and relationships with people that we could count on and who could count on us,” Niki explains.

Especially important, she believes, was learning how to tell the difference between a superficial encounter and a deep, meaningful friendship with an individual or a group of people that would become lifelong friends.

“We got our stress relief from connections with real people and having those people care for us in a meaningful way,” Niki says. “The result was that neural pathways began to develop in our brains, telling us how to deal with problems when life started to present them to us. In some cases, during these years, people found other releases of dopamine to deal with their problems, including drugs or alcohol.  When people associate the release of dopamine with the act of doing those things, they often go through the rest of their lives chasing that source of dopamine.”

She reveals that if you get your source of dopamine from interacting with friends, you’re going to continue to do that. However, if you get your dopamine from social media, drugs, or alcohol, you’re going to continue to do that.

“So, when life becomes hard and you don’t have anyone to turn to, you turn to the source of that dopamine, whatever it is. The person’s brain conditions them to believe that by doing whatever it is that they’re doing, they’re going to get that release of dopamine, and that will help to alleviate the pain. And the brain is always correct.”

It doesn’t matter the source of the stress, Niki says. “It could be financial stress, family stress – whatever. It doesn’t matter. That dopamine release is the answer. Consequently, with an entire generation that grew up getting their dopamine by viewing social media, what we have here is millions of people that largely don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships.”

The question, Niki says, is what each of us will do to help them to learn how to find real satisfaction with people. “I think there’s a lot riding on this answer for our society in general because every generation learns from the one that came before it. We must intervene now so that we don’t have an ongoing cycle of people who simply don’t know how to form real relationships.”

For more information about Nicole Marie and her transformation into one of the modeling industry’s biggest names, visit

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