Are you addicted to gadgets?

 The hormone dopamine is connected to the addiction to information technology.


Information technology can liberate as well as enslave.

If you Google “gadget addiction” you will find scores of articles about the modern addiction to gadgets.  This addiction extends to social media, the news and online gaming.  In one article a woman dumped her boyfriend because he refused to have a Facebook account.  Something has gone terribly wrong since technology rather than be liberating has enslaved human beings.  Smart phones are supposed to be tools to help process and communicate information, but they have now become objects that entrap, control and divide the individual from self, people and nature.

Most people are unable to let go of their gadgets, social media and the need for news.  People are addicted, the hormone dopamine is behind this addiction.  A study of rats implanted with electrodes shows they will press a lever that causes stimulation of their pleasure centre of their brain until they die of exhaustion, they won’t rest, look after their pups or eat.  Like the rats the human has become addicted to a lever of gadgets, social media and news thanks to dopamine.

Dopamine in balance motivates people to explore the world to obtain rewards such as food and sex.  Although dopamine rewards the self for obtaining food or other goal, it has the second function of motivating goal seeking in order to obtain the reward.  Dopamine is behind most addictions like gambling or Facebook because it is motivating the individual to seek out the lever then press it.  The narcotic cocaine is a vicious drug in that it will create a cascade of dopamine which can entrap the individual in addiction in one night. On a lesser scale gadgets, social media and the news is feeding into the exact same dopamine pathways with milder consequences as cocaine does.

Every like, friending or update creates a spike of dopamine in the human brain.  The human becomes addicted to these dopamine spikes and need more regular stimulation.  People are unable to put down their gadgets, they get withdrawal symptoms from being away from social media too long.  Society has been turned into a population of dopamine junkies.

Technology is an awesome tool if it is used well where you are the master.  Technology should be liberating rather than enslaving; technology should enhance your creativity rather than control you into a rigid thinking state; technology should motivate you to obtain wisdom through experiential doing rather than leave you as a passive spectator of life.  If the technology has been unable to build bridges to liberty, creativity and wisdom, but rather creates barriers between the individual and self, others and nature, then it has gone wrong.

When I speak of the potential of artificial intelligence, many people are afraid of being enslaved or harmed by the technology, but the paradox is that most people are already locked in to slavery and self-harm to the machine through the dopamine addictions to information technology. Awareness of what has happened is the first step to becoming the master of information technology rather than its slave.


41 responses to “Are you addicted to gadgets?

  1. True, a real man only needs a hunting knife and a bottle opener!

  2. Not sure if I’m a junkie or not… when away, like last weekend I do miss the connections but not to the extent that it almost becomes withdrawal symptomatic… am I junkie.?? I don’t think so.. even though I do enjoy the connections throughout the world…

  3. This I so true. The parents are on their smart phones and hardly pay attention to their children. I was traveling on the bus with grandson. He wanted to play with my phone because he was bored. When I was a child traveling we either watched the scenery or read a book. It’s a different world and it will only get worst in the name of progress.

  4. Why do so many pay so much attention to these devices? Well, that’s a really good question (and I would like to know) but laying the cause on dopamine is not a very good answer. In fact, it’s no answer at all. From the Observer’s science columnist:

    “If there were a celebrity among brain chemicals, it would be dopamine. Supposedly released whenever we experience something pleasurable, it’s forever linked to salacious stories of sex, drugs and wild partying in the popular press. The Kim Kardashian of neurotransmitters, it gives instant appeal to listless reporting and gives editors an excuse to drop some booty on the science pages.”

    “The dopamine stereotype is not just reserved to the jauntier sections of the tabloid press. It can also be used as a way of making any of your views sound scientific. It’s a simple formula – if you disagree with something, just say it releases dopamine and imply it must be dangerously addictive”

    Sound familiar?

    Dopamine is neurochemical that plays all kinds of roles in a very complex system, roles that are sometimes aided and sometimes inhibited by altered production. Attributing addictive behaviour to dopamine production is a shortcut that moves us away from gaining any real understanding of what’s really going on, what’s really motivating behaviour. It’s a non answer.

    • I have read the article in question. Dopamine as I point out is more than a reward hormone, it is one that motivates people to activity that will result in the reward. I would think science is on my side when I suggest most addictions have dopamine involved. Thanks for your comment.

  5. [ Smiles ] Point taken, Alex. Even I am guilty of carrying my smartphone with me almost everywhere. In my case, the device is used to peruse WordPress and to respond to comments that were made on WordPress during my period away from the PC.

  6. Yep, I struggle to go a day without the internet unless I’m on holiday. It’s a quick fix evasion from the monotony of everyday life.

  7. I Twit, I don’t FB, I wouldn’t touch Google+ or any of those other gadgets with a barge pole. I have an old cellphone, it makes telephone calls, it doesn’t take piccys, it doesn’t play music; I leave it at home when I am going to the bar or to a restaurant, because I find it intrusive.

    Having said that, I am on the net most of most days, I have 8 blogs to feed.


  8. Maybe because I am getting older and still remember a life without computers and 100+ TV channels but I can only stand to be on the computer for so long and then need to do something else. Because of starting my blog I do spend short amounts of time on the computer 2 sometimes 3 times a day. I can’t really see the addictive properties of the computer, but then I’ve had my share of addictions throughout my life so I do understand addictions.

  9. My name is DK. I am an addict.

  10. This makes me want to get back into my weekly spiritual retreat where I didn’t use the internet…

  11. My gripe is people walking the streets watchng their phones. the rest of us have to navigate round them. Am thinking of getting bull bars for my woolly hat.

  12. Well I have a confession here Alex, I do seem to be addicted to the PC of late.. and especially WordPress! 🙂 But I have easily let go of the TV.. In favour of my knitting- and painting- gardening- My washing machine however I would fight for as I don’t wish to go back to scrubbing boards and blocks of soap.. My knuckles would suffer…:-)

    But what all of these things need is electricity.. now should that fail ?????.. and it could- ( Solar Flares ) Energy shortages… as has been predicted. many of these gadgets wouldn’t work.. along also with our banking systems shops etc – Electronic Doors- Checkout-Tills….. Chaos would ensue… so maybe we should think up alternatives for electricity 😉

  13. I feel less of an addict, if I use these gadgets to create or communicate. The moment I use them in a passive way, slowly drifting into oblivion, loosing the sense of time, reacting to stimuli without thinking, …

  14. Before we got our dopamine fix from using gadgets and social media, we must have gotten it from other things and activities. Perhaps we should all get out and about more.

    • Dopamine is a natural hormone connected to discovery and survival. Being out in nature one still gets the dopamine fix but in balanced quantities along with other hormones such as Serotonin which moderate the dopamine. You are right, getting out and about is the solution, whilst leaving the gadgets at home.

  15. Reblogged this on Vents, rants and perspectives on life and commented:
    I think this actually describes me…at least, up until this last January.

  16. A social movement against gadget addiction is being soft launched right now. An interesting Facebook page named “take back our lives” has been started by a New York based ad man and his friends. The FB page aims to be fun and humorous and not be preachy.

    Please check this FB page . Feel free to “like” the page, “share” the page and bring in as many friends as you wd like. Contribute to the page by sharing your experience/ideas/suggestions/photos/videos.

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