Millennials are the first generation to grow up in an era of hyper addictions.
The natural human desire for connection has been replaced by the connectedness and flexibility of social media.
Love and sexuality, the highest expressions of human intimacy, have been replaced by the variety and prevalence of pornography.
The masculine drive to pursue personal growth, ambition, assertiveness, and strength, have been replaced by psychological video games.
Social media is to relationships what pornography is to sex; both remove the social fabric and beauty which attracts humans to them in the first place. Rewards-based video games have created a generation of man-children that are deeply afraid of the real world.
Video game addiction is harder to reverse than drug addiction
Video games use mechanisms to trigger the reward system in your brain to keep you addicted to progressing in a virtual world. Dopamine, the “pleasure” hormone, is released when you complete a quest and your brain links your virtual success with pleasure and you are pulled to repeat this over and over.
The brain doesn’t take in to account that nothing productive comes from 100 hours of progress in a virtual world — it just likes to FEEL good.
Yes, this mainly affects men. Of the gaming population, 87 percent are male, 79 percent white.
On top of earned rewards, there are statistically random rewards or “drops”, typical in games like World of Warcraft or Diablo, which links Dopamine release with time spent in game. The gamer believes that, the longer he plays the game, his next Dopamine hit could be just round the corner. “Just 10 more minutes” is an expression familiar to every gamer.
However, the largest reason why gamers are stuck in a virtual world, is because it is a form of escapism from their physical reality. 41% of gamers admit that they play to escape their “dull” life. Why would you want to be a nobody in school, when you could be an invincible warrior online? If the game is big enough, like World of Warcraft, which spans completely explorable worlds, the real world looks far less exciting.
Adolescent males, who are having a difficult time in real-life, frequently turn to video games to shut out these problems instead of dealing with them.
Social Media is to relationships what pornography is to sex.
Social media and texting are great supplements to face-to-face interaction and staying in touch. However, when smartphone users check their Facebook 14 times per day on average and 40% of 18-34 year olds check their social networks first thing in the morning, it is clear that this has become something else entirely.
We are “collecting” friends and not distinguishing between quality and quantity. Sacrificing conversation for virtual connection. Why? Well, in real-time conversations you cannot control what you’re going to say or how you’re going to react. However, on social media, you can edit your words, your looks, and beliefs to present yourself as you wish. You are constantly monitoring your own brand.
Not only that but we get to delete. Delete our imperfections and everything we don’t like about ourselves. With these tools, we become obsessed with self-promotion and social gratification. If we get likes on our new profile picture or update, our brain’s reward center goes in to overdrive and you feel great. Conversely, not getting enough likes can have the reverse effect. In fact, the University of Salford found that almost 50% of users find that social networks make their life worse because they inevitably end up comparing their accomplishments to those in their online circles.
Social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram offer the comfort that we will never have to be alone, that we will always be heard, and we can focus on what we want.
Paradoxically, as we are becoming increasingly “connected” we are becoming increasingly lonely as we find it more convenient and safe to “be” online and not grow true real-time friendships.
All of this has lead to loneliness becoming the most common ailment of the modern world
Pornography and sex
The latest surveys have shown that just under 70% of young adult men watch porn at least once a week. Yes, women watch porn too but less than 20% of viewers are women.
Aside from the issue of the treatment of women, which is a separate and one-sided conversation, watching porn from a young age, like most adolescents with an internet connection, has major repercussions in later life for boys.
Watching porn from a young age leaves boys to grow up with the assumption that women are a masturbation tool and sex is just an inconvenient mechanism.
The way millennial boys look at women is, quite frankly, saddening. Women are numbers and “challenges” instead of human beings. Carrying these thoughts into adulthood, men who would rather get off to a computer screen than have a relationship with a woman. Why bother with the effort of connecting with another human being when you can bypass everything in a few minutes?
Human beings EXIST to procreate and multiply. The body cannot tell the difference between masturbation and actual sex so after men masturbate they do not feel the need to go out and find a mate for a while. The body thinks it has done its job and planted its seed.
Ultimately, our laziness and fear of rejection is attracted to the convenience and anonymity of a computer screen.
This might seem like a lot of negativity for one post, but in reality, I am a logical and hopeful person so my opinion is coming from a place of observation and desire to empower men, not a place of destruction.
After all, the first step in fixing a problem is to admit there is one.
These addictions only affect mindless users, not people who are using them in a productive and positive way (of which there are many, and you most likely are one). Unfortunately, the numbers show that the former group has grown. Fast.
The cycle can be stopped by showing boys and men how to live and act mindfully. Being conscious of what you’re doing and feeling can liberate you from the weight of feeling lost and under the control of your addictions. Once a man is awake to the world, what naturally follows is he begins to cut out that which doesn’t serve his interest.
Mindfulness is not just another new-agey trend. Entrepreneurs, world leaders, and people who make a difference often cite such practices are being their turning point towards their dreams.
I believe we can use technology for good and as a group take responsibility for stopping the cycle of emasculation in recent decades. If we can see the damage mindless use of social media, pornography, and video games have caused to the current generation of young adults, maybe we can spare the next generation and break the cycle.