Who holds the chain, which keeps me down, to the ground?
We have all heard of alcoholism, chain-smoking, and drug addictions of all kinds, but by large the most widespread addiction in the Western World is ignored and belittled to the status of a mere pass time. Cyber addictions are plaguing our youth, especially young men. When we participate in cyber activities of the unproductive variety, we trade our attentive energy and raw potential for a fleeting sensation of entertainment.
When I use the term “cyber addiction” I am referring to porn, video games, TV and social media specifically, but I´m sure there are other examples to name. These are designed to capture our attention and keep us hooked for as long as possible – it´s how the industry makes its money. Social media, for instance, profits by displaying advertisements to its users – marketers pay for ads on a cost-per-click, lead generation, or quantity of impressions basis. The more ads Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram can flash in front of you, the more money they make, so they want you plugged in for as long as possible. Regardless of the particular medium, the end goal is to make you go static and sell (or, more accurately, trade) your attention, time, and energy for entertainment.
Sounds like a waste of time, right?
Many of you won´t have this issue, but I hope that this helps you understand it a little bit better so you can help someone who does. Others may not see it as a problem; I´m not writing to change your mind – it´s your life. However, if this is ringing a bell, you´re the person I´m trying to reach. If you get a shameful feeling after burning time on these activities, and sick of living in the same day-in day-out numbing cycle, you´re whom I´m trying to reach. If that is you, listen to your feelings; you know your truth.
I was in the exact same situation. Speaking from experience, my cyber addiction was so deep that it took me years to climb out of it, and I would like to offer you this brief reflection of how I climbed out.
I´m not a neuroscience, but when it comes to a cyber addiction, the battlefield is dopamine – the feel good chemical of the brain. In the modern world, we´re completely surrounded by easy-reach dopamine. Cigarettes, beer, movies, porn, shopping malls, video games, drugs and hot running water. To be exceptional in this day and age, without the external pressures of mother nature thrusting us forward every day, we must find the discipline within ourselves to re-negotiate our relationship with dopamine.
Electronic entertainment is designed to trigger dopamine production with very little input/work. The result is a quick but fleeting feel-good sensation which hits hard, but the over-stimulation leaves a void. With each repeat, it takes a little more to feel satisfied, duration and intensity, and the void gets deeper – presumably similar to a drug addiction. As a young teenager, this self-destructive cycle brought me so deep into the pit that I had a school attendance rate of 55%, and a typical day consisting of 14 hours of Minecraft, League of Legends, Counter Strike and Rust. It is a slippery slope, and I didn´t even see it as an issue until I was years into wasting my potential. What I realized then was that I can´t change my past, but I can change the road I´m on. I realized then that I can harness what remains of my potential, and pay forward the hard lessons of my mistakes.
The name of the game is renegotiation. To defeat a cyber addiction, you have to renegotiate your relationship with dopamine. It´s all about getting addicted to hard work, by setting a goal, making a plan, and putting in the work to achieve it. Dopamine, in the natural sense, is among our greatest allies. Here are some suggestions to get it back on your side.
- Stop watching porn. You don´t need it to empty your balls.
- Take cold showers. The Spartans identified that warm water made their warriors lazy.
- Get your house in order. Clean your room. Clean your house. Clean your garden.
- Go jogging. Simple and easy way to get a hit of good dopamine.
- Join a martial arts club. It is a community of discipline. Jujitsu is especially good.
- Write a to-do list for the next day at the end of the day, and stick to it.
- Reduce and eventually eliminate video game use.
- Stop watching TV. It´s called television programming for a reason.
- Nerd exercises. Even if you don´t have the confidence to go to the gym yet, you can do push-ups at home. You can do push-ups between loading screens if you’re still playing games. You will find that they make you feel better than the game itself.
- Go to the gym and focus on basic compound exercises. Lift what you can, you´re not competing with anyone but yourself.
- Read a book. Trade out phone time for reading time.
- Buddy up with someone who will hold you accountable.
- Renegotiate relationships with gamer friends. You will be the average of the people you most associate with.
- Meet someone. Having a sexual partner will abolish any remaining incentive to watch pornography.
- Try gardening. God made us to be gardeners.
- Go swimming! It´s basically meditation in water.
- Cooking your own food is healthier and cheaper, and a great skill to have.
- Set your own goal, make a plan, and make it happen.
- Go for a walk and greet the people you pass.
- Refit your kit. Linux computers and GrapheneOS phoneshave all the benefits of modern technology, without the trackers, ads, and other corporate garbage. A flip phone/dump phone, or a no phone lifestyle also has its benefits.