Previous post I talk a little bit about the science of anticipation and how big companies use it to make us addicted to their products. Unfortunately these addictions comes with some big consequences.
The hormone that creates anticipation is called dopamine. It's also called as the motivation hormone. When we get a reward after a specific action, brain associates the dopamine release with the action that brings us the reward. Dopamine generates the required motivation to do any activity which is rewarding for us. And as brain seeks dopamine, it forces us to repeat that action over and over again. This is how all the drugs work. They cause an extraordinary amount of dopamine release so our brain records that action as a cause of a big reward.
Real harm comes after regular and big exposures. The more dopamine brain is exposed to, less sensitive it gets. Number of dopamine receptors in the brain decreases. And the amount of dopamine that is released to motivate us to do everyday activities or to work on some hard tasks start to become insufficient. Brain seeks more and more dopamine, and does whatever it takes to reach as much as dopamine, as easy as possible. Remember this is a very primal behavior of human which used to have an essential role on survival.
How this works today?
Digital entertainment in all forms, has the exact same effect on us, if not the worse. Maybe it is worse because, these entertainments such as social media and computer games doesn't show any instant physiological side effects. Also their consuming habits are very cheap and easy to maintain. As a result, we became slaves of Facebook, constant WhatsApp communication, Tinder, Netflix etc... In the end comparing to the time we spend, there are very minor or no rewards whatsoever.
Learning a new language cannot compete with scrolling down on Instagram, studying on your major cannot compete with watching Netflix with the anticipation they create. The more we develop these unhealthy addiction, harder it gets for our brain to maintain motivation on long term and significant goals.
There is always a solution, if you recognize the problem. If you want to have a deep intellectual knowledge about life, have a successful academic career or become the best at what you do, maintain a healthy lifestyle in all aspects (physiological, mental, social..) you have to maintain your motivation to do the hard job. In time you will even start to enjoy doing them. You will realise that is where you actually learn, explore, be amazed and grow. Like every other addiction, if you stop using the substance, your brain starts to repair itself. I will write about my recovery process also in the future.
We can not isolate ourselves completely from the digital media. Some of them even essential for us today. However it is very very important to recognize "why we do what we do". Are you using the Internet to get a specific reward, or you just hang in there as a slave of anticipation. We should learn how to use technological tools to get actually what we want from them. Don't get fooled, don't get trapped.