Though many of my previous posts sound like condescending judgement, I am very much affected by the described consequences. Dopamine, something so vital and basic in our neural systems, has caused me to repeatedly succumb to distractions, choose my phone over the outside world, and procrastinate till the late hours of the night. With all this technology demanding constant attention, we feel overstimulated, endlessly engaged, and thanks to dopamine, it FEELS GOOD! Social media has invaded our lives in a way that causes us to crave it when we temporarily lose access to it. Each notification, email, text, tweet, status update, Snapchat story, episode of a favorite TV show, gaming session, gambling splurge, Buzzfeed article, Instagram like sends a rush through our brains. Over time, waves and waves of dopamine erode the sensitivity of our pleasure responses. As discussed in the previous post, we have built a certain tolerance for the effects of instant gratifications and we can’t help but to want more. We move away from the basic and natural experiences of the world in search of more digitized sources of satisfaction, yet we often refuse to look further than arms reach. All of a sudden, the world seems duller without these flashing lights and sensational experiences. Has the world itself really decreased in excitement or have we become numb to the heavy rays of golden sunlight, invigorating breaths of fresh air, and the cooling sensation of a midnight breeze?
Often times, heavy drug users report that each passing day (barring their intense highs) seems very surreal and void of impression. They require so much stimulation to achieve any reasonable amount of joy, and the native human experiences barely trigger any responses. Similarly, though not with the same degree of influence, the bubble of technology surrounding us has definitely partially overridden our pleasure-seeking circuity.
The virtual realm, the place where we experience a reality disjointed by a technological fog, could soon replace reality itself. This hyperbolic way of thinking may remind us of what existence as humans really means. In a life that is filled with opportunities and authenticity, our technological connections can definitely overpower our decision making and even our uniqueness. We have gradually become more partial to the instant, effortless satisfactions derived from technology-fueled services and commonplaces.
And who could blame us? Dopamine, a crucial piece of the behavior and motive system of the brain, tells our body that for our well-being and even survival, we must seek out the very things that release more dopamine. This recursive cycle wouldn’t necessarily harm us, except for the fact that as technology becomes more and more of the ‘fix’, the less and less control we have over our own behaviors. Our genuine characteristics slowly degrade.
So as we slide around on this gradient between technological and unassisted methods of carrying out every day behavior, it’s imperative that we reflect on how strong of a grasp our devices have on our lives. Digital technology provides tools for innovation and human progress, fueling and inspiring the minds of many to get up and create. To learn and explore. To research and imagine in organic ways. Yet when it causes us to repeatedly choose itself over direct and uninhibited interpersonal connections, entertainment, and play, it assumes a terrifying amount of control over our identities.
Though it’s an uphill battle against our neurological framework, let us take back that control.
Thank you so much for reading these mixed ( and often times unpolished) ideas. I hope you enjoyed the posts and if any of these ideas stirred up pressing thoughts, feel free to talk to me!