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Are You Addicted to Dopamine

cell phone addiction

Self absorbed, lazy, uncommitted, spoiled, and the “me-me-me generation” are just a few of the many negative stereotypes we have as Millennials. These aren’t exactly the best characteristics to be known for.

While other generations say we’re narcissistic, I argue that we understand the importance of personal branding. While others think of useless selfies and dinner pics when they think of social media, I see unprecedented tools that leverage personal relationships and tear down geographical barriers.

However, there may be an inkling of truth to what the naysayers are saying.

My question is: at what point are we branding ourselves effectively and at what point are we simply posting another selfie? At what point are we implementing the art of storytelling to connect with people and at what point are we stroking our egos?

I recently saw a brilliant video about dopamine addiction by Simon Sinek He said our smartphones’ social media notifications cause our brains to release dopamine, an important chemical.

Interestingly enough—drugs, gambling, cigarettes, and alcohol also trigger dopamine. This is what causes addiction, which is to say we can literally become addicted to our smartphones.

Think of how bizarre that is. Can you imagine someone being addicted to their rotary phone? (You know, one those “spinny” phones you see on old black-and-white TV shows.) What a crazy thought—a rotary phone addiction. No one would ever mistake that phone for being a substitute for social interaction. No one would ever become reclusive and depressed because of this piece of technology.

Yet we are addicted to our phones. We do use them as substitutes for social interaction. We do become depressed and reclusive because of modern technology.

Personally, I can’t bear the thought of being without my phone for a single day. If I were to forget my phone (which would be nearly impossible because it’s always within arm’s reach), I would turn around to retrieve it immediately, regardless of where I was going or who I was meeting.

Where’s the balance?

In trying to find this balance within my own life, I’ve been implemented these three practices and have been quite happy with the outcome. These have helped me become social media savvy within in my business while maintaining healthy boundaries.

1. Regularly get off the grid

One day a week, I try to avoid social media entirely. It may sound crazy and, admittedly, I don’t always succeed with this goal. I love social media but there’s a lot to be said about living in the moment and making memories. It’s nice to just be.

It’s a lot like a much needed detox.

One of the biggest highlights for 2014 was when my wife and I took a vacation and stayed off social media the entire time. In fact, we kept our phones on airplane mode so we couldn’t be contacted. It was the best vacation of our lives.

2. Create a specific goal

To this day, I sometimes get on Facebook and completely waste time. I click on linkbait and watch random videos of random animals doing random things.

This is one of the reasons I try to avoid Facebook altogether—it’s just a time waster for me. I even uninstalled the app from my phone. I’m not saying Facebook is inherently evil, I just know it isn’t a productive social media platform for me, so I try to avoid it.

You should have a specific goal in mind when you get on social media. Are you sharing your content? Are you engaging with your followers? Are you wanting to connect with new people in your industry? When you have a goal, you’re less likely to wander mindlessly.

3. Kill the vanity metrics

Presumably, most of us love the idea of having a massive following. As enticing as it sounds to have hundreds of thousands of followers, it’s quality over quantity. It’s better to have small community of engaged members than to have a large, superficial network.

Of course, most of us wouldn’t argue with having the best of both worlds: a large, highly engaged community. But building something like that takes time.

If we focus on the numbers too much, they become nothing more than a vanity metric. We shouldn’t seek fulfillment in a number of Retweets or likes. I’m not going to lie, those are definitely great…but they shouldn’t define you.

What do you think? Do you think there’s any validity to the criticisms we face as a generation? Do you think you’ve struggled with social media addiction or dopamine addiction?

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About Nik Parks

Nik Parks is passionate about helping creatives discover how to become business savvy creative professionals. He does this through The Launching Creative Podcast by interviewing successful creative professionals and entrepreneurs. He also loves social media, blogging, and adding to his bow tie collection.

4 thoughts on “Are You Addicted to Dopamine

  1. Cheval John says:

    This is a great post, Nik.
    You are definitely right about how at times social media replaces the face-to-face relationships and the fact that it is always important to have quality over quantity.
    Glad that you are doing great continuously with your business and hope you are having a great week.

    1. Nik Parks says:

      Thanks, Cheval! Sorry for being a little late with my response, by the way.

      Yeah, we are just wired for real relationships!

  2. Ezra Winter says:

    Great article Nik! One thing that’s really helped me with this is taking my sleep hygiene super seriously. Getting to bed earlier, no screens before sleep and getting up earlier.

    1. Nik Parks says:

      Thanks, Ezra! I’ve done the same thing. It’s life changing, isn’t it? There are a lot of people who wear sleep deprivation as a badge of honor…I couldn’t disagree with them more.

      One bad habit that I’m still working on though…I look at my smart phone when I first wake in the morning. Ha.

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