10/05/21: Addiction At Our Fingertips

You might think I’m sharing this post bc of the outages that just happened yesterday. I’m not. I’m sharing it because 2 days ago, I was reading an article about digital addictions & how they affect dopamine, & it scared the sh&t out of me.

Back in Sept of 2019, we were doing an event with middle schoolers, & a woman from our team asked the kids: What do you do to manage stress when you’re home from school?

The kids all made the same motion: held one hand out like it was a tablet & used a finger on the other hand to show swiping. It was the first time IT hit me like a ton of bricks: we’re giving these kids devices to get away from stress as a “quick fix” & that’s the precursor to all the other VICES they’re GONNA turn to, not learning how to manage their stress.

It’s not just kids. Not even close. And I’m as guilty as anyone.

Rewind only 25yrs ago. A blip on the evolutionary radar screen. We had dial-up modems & AOL, & it was a lot if we got 3 emails a day. We now get 3 emails a minute.

Back then, to get our dopamine hit – we would play in the street. Get picked for a game – hit. Score a basket – hit. Catch someone in tag – hit. We got our hits, but they were few & far between, as we chased them.

The science in this article is scary. The phone: text, email, DM, SM refresh, like, follow, they ALL give us an INSTANT dopamine hit (that’s not news). What is news (at least to me) – our brains then SWIM in dopamine, & as a result our receptors down-regulate (stop searching for the dopamine as much).

So, we finish our phone usage for a period – feel hungover – from the down regulation…& we don’t like that feeling- on TOP of the feeling of “stuff” (stress/trauma that we haven’t worked on), & so we go BACK to the phone- addicted to more of those hits, to escape.

The science of that down regulation – Wow. In some way to some level, if we have a smart phone, we are ALL addicts.

We use vices to escape our “stuff” & this tech has made it so these things are drugs IN our hands ALL the time. We GOTTA prioritize REAL connection.

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