Past is gone. Future will never come. Live in the moment or you’ll keep reciting same stories of the past that you lived in first two decades of your life.
Human brain releases dopamine, a chemical which plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It's a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. Dopamine is released in very small amounts but possess very significant control over your body. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting. But just like refined sugar if dopamine is "refined" and provided you in higher dosage or in this case, if stimuli are so optimised that your brain starts producing it more then it can start an endless neurological feedback loop which can be very hard to escape.
"But isn't that great to have more pleasure, focus and more of all the effects that dopamine has?" Well, the context matters, I'll talk about that in a bit. Anyway, when you handover the reigns of your brain to a large corporation they are definitely not going to use that access for your benefits.
Casinos, video games and social media
Casinos and video games are packed with stimuli like flashing lights and bells and whistles. Games train your reflexes to react to those stimuli. We execute those reflexes over and over and over again, reinforcing the neurological pathways responsible for those reflexes. And then every time we execute one of those reflexes, we get intense neurological satisfaction. And that satisfaction is so addicitive that you start treating video games or gambling as your reality and the only source of dopamine.
"But I don't gamble or play video games. So, I'm ok, right?" Well, NO! If you're out of 3.5 billion smartphone users in this world, which you are, then it is extremely likely that use something called social media like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Tinder or what not. Those all apps are "free to use" or I must say that they are free to sign up. As soon as you start using them they start charging you money which you're not even aware of. First, they'll ask for permissions like access to your phone's camera, location, microphone, photos, files and other stuff, and you'll give them all of that. Then they'll show you some photos and videos. Some of them will be of your friends' but a lot of them will be of people with amazing bodies, wealthy possessions, travel photos, better looking pets than yours and much much more. Soon by analysing your behaviour and all the telemetry data, they'll start showing you ads which will be exploiting your insecurities or will try to nudge you to buy something which you didn't need. You might think you can quit all of this. But meanwhile, you've subconciously started competing with all those people who have more followers and more likes than you, and each follow or a like or a match you get has started giving you a dopamine hit which feels really good. And then you'll consume more of that glorified content and this feedback loop will continue.
You'll pay for the things that your favourite social media app/s recommended you. The seller and social media platform will earn off of your data and because of constant dopamine hit that you get from that social media platform you won't quit it and it'll put you in this miserable jail.
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Avoid cheap dopamine
"What do you mean by cheap?" Dopamine that you get from casinos, using social media, playing video games, eating sugar, watching pornographic content and other activities which are sold to you by big corporations and are highly optimised to create that feedback loop of neurological satisfaction which turns you into a cash-cow for those corporations but isn't helping you at all. It won't be easy at all and I'll talk about that in the next blog post.
A lot of these anti-dopamine blog post goes wrong because they end up conveying "Cut out dopamine completely". But that is not what you have to do. Dopamine isn't bad. In fact, it's great if you use it aligning with its evolutionary roots. Dopamine is a natural reward system. If you secure better job, your business runs better than previous year, you approach a woman that you like or lift more weight in gym than yesterday, then your brain is going to release dopamine and will make you feel good and make you focus and strive for what you want to achieve. I won't go into absolute details in this blog post. But for next couple of weeks I'll be discussing how I went through dopamine detox and how I'm utilizing dopamine to create a productive feedback loop which is similar to the one that social media or video games create but helps me to progress in life instead of turning myself into a cash-cow of some big corporation. So, stay tuned.
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That's it for this blog post and if you feel that you've something to add to this or you have a different perspective then share it and discuss it on r/StoicHuman or go to the Reddit discussion post for this blog post linked down below.
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