How much are you like a lab rat?

Are you a rat?

Image by thehoneybunny via Flickr

I had a theory 6-7 years ago. I still do. The theory is that we compulsively text message, instant message and Facebook (FB wasn’t around at the time for adults)because they tap into our inner lab rat.

These communication tools exploit our inner pleasure/reward system. With each ding, buzz or Like, we get a little burst of dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter released in response to things like cocaine, crack, sex, deep laughter, etc. Each response we received provides validation. “I’m important. I’m valued. I’m liked.”

Each ding, buzz and Like kicks off this same response. Then the dopamine subsides. We want more dopamine. Just another little fix. Like a lab rat, we keep an open ear or eye on the dopamine bursting delivery mechanism … We look at our phones while we “listen” to our friends at dinner. We itch with wonder. “What’s going on on FB? Did I get another email? Has anyone texted me?” We live in a state of constant distraction. “Give me my validation. I want my dopamine!”

Over time, we get acclimated to the dopamine bursts. We need more to create the same sense of pleasure. More time on FB, Twitter, IM and Txt Msging. Less connection, more addiction.

How long can you go without checking your phone for an incoming message, missed call or email? How about FB?

I go around 20-30 minutes.

Who’s running your life? You, the human being. Or, your inner lab rat?

More cheese please.

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