I've often felt like I may be insane, or close to it. Though nobody wants to talk about it, I think it's true for a lot of us; perhaps even most of us.
The problem, according to this article on Slate
, is our "seeking" mechanism. Some scientists believe now that the dopamine system does not have a satiation component: That is, we are driven to want things, to go after them, but finding them does not give us satisfaction so we keep seeking. This apparently is the reason people get addicted to amphetamines, and also to Google or Twitter. I changed my passwords on several websites yesterday to something I would have to look up because I couldn't seem to make myself stop checking those websites, even though I knew the likelihood of finding anything new there was minimal, and that if there was anything new it wouldn't turn out to be worth reading (i.e. satisfying). The article says:
"The dopamine system does not have satiety built into it," Berridge explains. "And under certain conditions it can lead us to irrational wants, excessive wants we'd be better off without." So we find ourselves letting one Google search lead to another, while often feeling the information is not vital and knowing we should stop. "As long as you sit there, the consumption renews the appetite," he explains.
When they first discovered (in the 1950s) that rats would continually go back to a corner of the cage when a shock was delivered to the hypothalamus, they assumed it was the pleasure center of the brain. Now they think this isn't so... it's the dopamine causing the continual return to the activity, and the lack of the activity in the opiate system (which would have pleasurable results) keeps them going back. And it keeps up checking Twitter or Cycle Trader or Auto Trader or eBay.
This system is actually good for us — necessary, in fact. Without it, we would never learn anything. Without it (according to the article), animals won't eat even when food is placed right in front of them. We need to have some level of compulsion.
But we don't need the level of compulsion that I've experienced lately. Unfortunately, the article doesn't offer any suggestions. That's why I'm going to log off of Pleonast after I hit "create entry".
For those who may have been confused by my wording, I'm not canceling accounts or logging off permanently: I've changed passwords to things I cannot possibly remember, meaning I have to look them up then copy/paste them into the password fields on the websites. This makes it too much trouble to just "pop in" and check things.