Addressing Your Addiction to Digital Dopamine
You have an addiction! Let’s face it, the majority of us have an addiction when it comes to technology. Which is odd because I spent half my life without all of these devices, apps, and games. Yet now I almost feel lost if they are not around.
A few nights ago we were sitting around with some friends talking about how nice it was to have maps on our phone. Having consulted and traveling around the US for many years it was extremely beneficial to be able to land in any city and know where I could find the hotel.
It was also nice to be able to track my progress in the cab or Uber to ensure I was taking the most direct route. The maps on the phone give me a sense of calm and control in situations which could easily get out of control quickly.
Yet, I compared this with a time in college where I drove a car from Texas to Virginia with only map and an AM radio station. The simplicity of the trip was extremely relaxing, especially after a challenging round of finals. But what was peaceful for me back then would be considered torture for most 19 year olds in today’s world. The reality is engaging on a trip with a paper map in hand over a phone takes a little more preparation. But it certainly is not the end of the road if I don’t have a digital map.
We are not as much addicted to technology as much as we have created some really bad habits in our lives. By using our phones over and over for games, apps, social media, latest news, or sports. By going to our phones when we are stressed or bored we are creating a feedback loop which spikes by a little dose of dopamine, which will temporarily make us feel better.
Dr. Adam Altar from Stern School of Business at New York University states “We are engineered in such a way that as long as an experience hits the right buttons, our brains will release the neurotransmitter dopamine. We’ll get a flood of dopamine that makes us feel wonderful in the short term, though in the long term you build a tolerance and want more.” Thus we go to our phone over and over again in order to get our dopamine hit. The problem is when we build up tolerance we have to stay on our phone longer in order to get our “fix.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/science/technology-addiction-irresistible-by-adam-alter.html
The interesting part of our phone usage is most of us want to admit we are in control of our lives. Whether this is true or not is another question. But if I ran a poll to ask people if they had an intentional technology plan they have implemented in order to use the phone appropriately. I would guess I would have very few “yes” answers. We use our phones based upon how manufacturers, developers, and marketers have told us to use them. In most cases using the “you will have more time” strategy. Or telling us it will make life easier.
The reality is while a few apps or software may make our lives easier, the majority of our usage is nothing but a time suck. We will spend countless house distracted from good work by flipping through various apps with no purpose in mind. We really have very little control over this device in our hand because we have never been intentional around how we will use the phone.
Change Your Habit
The way to overcome this problem is to change our habits. Instead of letting everyone else, most of whom do not even know you, define how you should live your life with a phone. Own your own journey and decide how you will use technology in general when it comes to your life. Why do you need a phone? How much time do you needlessly spend on the phone? What is the best use of each app you have downloaded onto your phone?
Like any addiction, the phone can become a tool of ruin in your life. The less you engage with people, the more distracted you become, or the less time you spend in meaningful activities can all take your life off course. If you truly want to live a Thrival Life, then make a plan and be intentional around how you are using your phone, and why? The end result could be a dramatic transformation in how you live your life. Also, who reading this doesn’t want more free time in their lives.
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