The dopamine surge

A gif of woman swinging below clouds

Dopamine is a superpower. Our brain hunts it down with the expectation of feeding it with some type of satisfaction, be it coffee or social media.

But our anticipation often exceeds reality. The coffee aroma smells better than the grounded beans actually taste. We only go on vacation with the promise of taking photos and sharing them on Instagram. Looking forward to these experiences energize us but fade just as quickly once we realize them.

Our neurons swim in desire, all the while ignoring the risks for drowning in it. Like a magnet, we are drawn to the pleasures of stimulants and irreality.

There’s no stopping us from swinging into the emotional rollercoaster, only to find that the high is not permanent like a tattoo. We can only rent moods and activities for so long.

gif by percolategalactic

Life & Philosophy Psychology

The chemicals between us

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via giphy

We all want to experience pleasure all the time. But it’s utility is temporary, the dopamine hit comes and goes. Addiction is the attempt to make it last forever. Spinning the social media wheel, again and again, is a prime example of its superficiality.

Happiness, on the other hand, “is long-term, additive and generous.” It’s a state of mind built over time through sustained effort toward true connection and generosity. It’s a deeper emotional investment with zero emphases on cash-value.

We have two choices: the taking of short-term dopamine or the giving of long-term serotonin. We become what we choose.



Twitter (my social media of choice) is a constant stream of surprise not unlike walking down the streets of New York City. It’s excellent people watching, socializing, breaking news and entertainment. From crazy to sad to laugh-out-loud hilarious, Twitter is available for non-stop distraction. And as a maker, it really is that: a distraction.

Twitter is our news tool but also our boredom tool.  We may scan the feed a few times a day to catch the latest interesting links or see what Tweeps are up to.  We may even add to the conversation with a Tweet or two, a sure way to increase dopamine

When we close out of Twitter, we almost forget where we are and what we are doing.  For a brief moment our focus gets lost is in the rapidity of digital conversation.  In short, we waste time and avoid the real work.

So, in a connection economy, which is where we live, we’re not going to succeed by sloppy networks. We’re not going to succeed by trading favors. We’re going to succeed by actually being part of a community and part of a network, and I don’t think you can do that on demand. I think you have to plan for it. So there are some people who are coming up with these new tools who are going to be ready for that, but there’s a whole other group that is just wasting time.  – Seth Godin

Our heads are much clearer when we avoid the social streams.  The important becomes important again.  We, not the Twittersphere, get to entertain our minds with work that really matters. We rediscover what it’s like to think ourselves instead in an online community of there.  

Our digital peeps are not going anywhere.  It’s ok to turn them off every once in a while to focus on hitting a milestone.