Can they coexist? Well, 21st century hipster culture has certainly proved itself capable. Hipster culture is embodied by food trucks cooking up instagram-friendly fusion foods and coffeehouses serving pricey brews in an industrial setting, among other examples. This culture of juxtaposition is at the heart of the millennial generation. Perhaps, it is a call for help? A sign of being lost and confused? Of having no firm traditions to hold onto for comfort as when one opens up anything and everything to objective analysis, almost no tradition of yesteryear seems like they were founded on firm grounds. Alas, to build anew involves pairing previously contradictory items to bring shock to the system, in hopes that this experimentation will yield something that can be held onto. Perhaps the millennial generation will not find a single yield from the process to be satisfactory, but rather what defines them is this journey of innovation instead. Of course, innovation is not new (*chuckle*), but it is the particular class of millennial innovation, which is not often first-order innovation such as inventing the wheel itself, but rather innovation of the second or third order, such as using old wheels as legs of a cafe table.
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?