Scrolling through my newsfeed, I caught a glimpse of a video of a commentator commenting on what it means to be a millennial. It seems there is an obsession with defining this generation. That’s probably a topic for another post.
What caught my attention is when the commentator explained that when we receive notifications of text messages and ‘likes’ etc. accorded by the age of social media, these notifications trigger the production of dopamine in our brains, which is a highly addictive pleasure-inducing chemical. He claims that that is the same chemical that is produced in one’s brain when one takes drugs and alcohol. So, his logic is that just as humans are conditioned to become addicted to alcohol and drugs because of the pleasure-inducing chemicals that are produced during the intake of which, millennials are addicted to instant gratification because of the dopamine that is produced when one is instantly notified of a ‘like’ on a posting on social media.
Taking these claims at face value, I wonder if by his logic, love is also another form of addiction. Certainly, it is pleasurable when we receive notes of endearment and appreciation from a significant other. After starting such a relationship, one begins to expect such romantic gestures from their loved one and wants more and more of such gestures from their loved one, until one decides to drown oneself in such a love by committing oneself to a lifelong bond. Perhaps true love is mutual addiction?
Is addiction always bad? Addiction seems to suggest that one is doing something outside of one’s control. An addicted person is one who has lost his/her agency as he/she cannot express his/her free will. As humans, we seem to value agency as a characteristic that puts us above other living things. Therefore, addiction is naturally regarded as ‘bad’ by robbing a person of his/her agency. If we accept this premise, and accept that love is a form of addiction, does that mean that love is also ‘bad’? Or, accepting that love is a form of addiction, are there forms of addiction that are not inherently ‘bad’? If so, what is that makes some forms of addiction not inherently ‘bad’ and others intuitively appalling?