Addiction



I think there are many technical definitions of addiction. Informally, addictions are a conflict the desire to get a hit right now in a way that sabotages longer-term desires. Or maybe habits that seem worth continuing while we have them, but we are glad to avoid when we stop. That includes social media, of course: Allcott et al. (2019).

Not much to say here right now; Perhaps see weaponised addiction for some hot takes.

Superstimuli and adversarial attacks on our urges

On “superstimuli” and their dangers – Spencer Greenberg categorises some things superstimuli

  • food: Cheetos / skittles / McDonalds
  • goal achievement: video games
  • visual arousal: porn
  • pair bonding: romance novels
  • affection: dogs
  • cuteness: puppies & kittens
  • stories: TV
  • beauty: photoshopped models
  • gossip: celebrity magazines
  • social approval: Facebook

Consider also narrative and clickbait.

Should we include recorded music in that list?

Interesting that opiates and other fun drugs are not in there. But without that inclusion it is easier to make the argument that they are all examples of things which have been gradually refined over time to improve their effectiveness of getting our attention. Those danged puppies have co-evolved over millenia to give us that loving.

Ronald Dworkin, The New Prohibition

Addiction is defined as using a substance or engaging in behaviors in a compulsive manner despite harmful consequences. Opioid and alcohol addiction are classic examples. Over the years, the definition of addiction has expanded to include activities such as shopping and golf. But when one thinks about it, we all have compulsive behaviors that border on the harmful. Such behaviors are even central to our identities. We know people by what they love and what they hate, typically expressed in a sentence that begins with the word “I,” as in “I love this and I don’t love that.” This “I” of ours—including its peculiar property of loving one thing and not another with varying degrees of intensity, be it ice cream, work, or sexual partners—is how we distinguish one person from another in our minds.

Erik Hoel, Exit the supersensorium touches upon many themes; dreaming, addiction, myths and the entertainment-industrial complex.

References

Addiction Showcases the Brain’s Flexibility.” n.d. Science News (blog).
Allcott, Hunt, Luca Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, and Matthew Gentzkow. 2019. The Welfare Effects of Social Media.” Working Paper 25514. National Bureau of Economic Research.
Becker, Gary S., and Kevin M. Murphy. 1988. A Theory of Rational Addiction.” The Journal of Political Economy, 675–700.
Dezfouli, Amir, Kristi Griffiths, Fabio Ramos, Peter Dayan, and Bernard W. Balleine. 2019. Models That Learn How Humans Learn: The Case of Decision-Making and Its Disorders.” PLOS Computational Biology 15 (6): e1006903.
Dezfouli, Amir, Richard Nock, and Peter Dayan. 2020. Adversarial Vulnerabilities of Human Decision-Making.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (46): 29221–28.
Lin, Liu yi, Jaime E. Sidani, Ariel Shensa, Ana Radovic, Elizabeth Miller, Jason B. Colditz, Beth L. Hoffman, Leila M. Giles, and Brian A. Primack. 2016. Association Between Social Media Use and Depression Among U.S. Young Adults.” Depression and Anxiety 33 (4): 323–31.
Nutt, D. J. 2009. Equasy — An Overlooked Addiction with Implications for the Current Debate on Drug Harms.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 23 (1): 3–5.
O’Connor, Mary-Frances, David K. Wellisch, Annette L. Stanton, Naomi I. Eisenberger, Michael R. Irwin, and Matthew D. Lieberman. 2008. Craving Love? Enduring Grief Activates Brain’s Reward Center.” NeuroImage 42 (2): 969–72.
Olekalns, Nilss, and Peter Bardsley. 1996. Rational Addiction to Caffeine: An Analysis of Coffee Consumption.” The Journal of Political Economy 104 (5): 1100–1104.
Primack, Brian A., Ariel Shensa, César G. Escobar-Viera, Erica L. Barrett, Jaime E. Sidani, Jason B. Colditz, and A. Everette James. 2017. Use of Multiple Social Media Platforms and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Nationally-Representative Study Among U.S. Young Adults.” Computers in Human Behavior 69 (April): 1–9.
Wojtowicz, Zachary, Nick Chater, and George Loewenstein. 2019. Boredom and Flow: An Opportunity Cost Theory of Attention-Directing Motivational States.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY.

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