Distraction is only a symptom I fear; the underlying problem is the pernicious union of computer addiction (smartphones) together with internet addiction. Grabionowski describes the signs for recognizing computer addiction (link). From the article, I note I too may be a candidate. Hours of my day are consumed online.
All addictions come at the brain in different ways, but all impact our pleasure centers to cause an internal release of dopamine, the pleasure chemical. That’s the one thing alcoholics, heroin addicts, porn addicts and now smartphone/internet addicts have in common. What varies is the quantity and regularity with which released dopamine impacts the brain. Heroin and Meth users experience a massive release.
For our smart phonies, it’s a tiny drip drip drip, a Chinese manufactured water torture that trickles dopamine into our heads with every email, every like on facebook, every meme, every crazy Snapchat and Instagram we view. It’s hidden in the approval from friend requests and lurks in the metadata of every email, every photo, every medium post. We rapidly acclimatize to this predictable and pleasurable supply of joy juice and adjust our behavior to actively seek it. This is the foundation of all addictions.
We are distracted from our lives because our lives are becoming harder to parse. Harder to know what the good life looks like. Harder to relax and find peace. It’s just that these days, it’s easier to take a selfie than to take a drink. The scary part is that both approaches require the same 12 steps to extricate yourself.
The first step however is to admit there is a problem.