I've found myself regressing during quarantine.
I've got too much time, and not enough to do. I've become a professional at wasting my days away. With no team lead or professor demanding overtime, the hours of 5pm-5am are entirely within my own control. And I'm a horrible boss.
I think human beings are creatures of habit, and get a certain amount of joy from carrying out their habit day in, and day out. We're fed, safe, and well rested.
Now I'm sure that worked great for ancient foragers and tribespeople, but in today's society, it's quickly become one of our biggest downfalls as individuals.
I'm talking about dopamine.
I'm no scientist, but I'm aware of this chemical. I like to think of it as the drug that makes us happy, injected into our system when we accomplish something of value. Or at least, that's how it should've worked.
We live in an era of constant distraction. Mobile phone games littered with microtransactions, one-click purchases on Amazon, Instagram likes, virtual slot machines that go off every five minutes, with no end in sight.
Our body doesn't understand the difference between a great workout and beating a level of World of Warcraft, and supplies the dopamine hit our brains request, regardless of context.
Over time, I think our bodies and brains start to crave this dopamine, and look to the path of least resistance to get it. It could be a game on your phone, it could be a shot of heroin, it could be making a sale from your online store, or flooring the gas pedal of your car.
With our minds trained to feast on the dopamine gladly supplied to us by our phones, it saps the happiness right out of otherwise beneficial activities.
Long runs and small business plans are replaced by pixels on a screen, and unlocking another level in a procedurally generated game, where the adventure never ends. That was my problem.
These games were designed to be addictive above all else, and can lead to. depression, social anxiety, and loneliness. With things like this, there's no end in sight. The happiness you get from levels 1-100 mimic that of 100-1000, and 1000-5000+. It never ends.
And on level 832, you've got to ask yourself- does this game even make you happy anymore? Do you enjoy what you're playing? Or is this an addiction that's manifested itself across a few hundred thousand pixels?
Dopamine thieves are stealing your time and you won't realize it until your phone sends you a snapshot of how many hours it's stolen from you.
I promise you if you long-press the app icon and delete it right now, you won't miss it for a second. And you'll free up weeks or months of your life to spend with people you care about, doing things that ultimately benefit you during your up to 80 years on this planet.