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Are smart phones, apps, and social media platforms built to be addictive?  We all know or at least suspect, that we know the answer to this question.  Of course they are!  So are slot machines, lotto, roulette, and other games of chance.

What is it that drives people to engage in addictive activities?  It may be an outside influence like a smart phone app or a stimulating set of circumstances.

I once watched a person on a heart monitor go from a ragged bit of brainwave activity into deep alpha talking about Star TrekStar Trek was an outlet to a world where she knew what to expect.  And it was good!  This sort of brain activating reward is a big part of habit development.

We don’t usually repeat activities that offer no reward.  To our brains, dopamine is a reward.  When the early morning light begins to wake-up our brains, it is dopamine that rewards the responsive cells in our eyes.

Adrenaline is another reward.  Little bursts of adrenaline help stamp things in memory.  Increased levels of adrenaline are part of the fight-or-flight system.  The de-stress cycle of an adrenaline high has rewards too, releasing cortisol and endorphins.  Cortisol helps reduce the sense of pain.  Endorphins make us feel good, like you get from a runner’s high.

This magnificent body, that each of us have, is a finely tuned system of neurotransmitters, hormones and other systems that help us achieve whatever we set our mind too.

The rewards of working towards an achievable goal and achieving desired results is registered in the brain by the serotonergic system.  Serotonin is released when we accomplish something desirable.  Serotonin tells us everything is alright.

With all of these systems to keep us on-track to where we want to be, shouldn’t we be mindful of how our goals could be replaced by the goals of someone else?


Who is hacking your brain?  According to Tristan Harris*, Facebook and Snapchat are hacking your brain.  Here is how he says they do it.  Brief pictures of happy things are flashed across the screen at a time that is optimized for you to continue staying in the game.  The game is always a synthetic matrix.  When you engage with these programs or get edgy, because you aren’t checking your messages or scrolling through images, you are an element in someone else’s synthetic matrix.

In any form of mind control, there is always a bit of reach and withdraw.  Reaching out to the game player is sensed as soothing and rewarding.  Withdrawing the reward for a period of time makes the player feel edgy and driven to continue.  Once a program finds your optimum reward and effort cycle, the program is in position to draw you into a synthetic matrix.  That’s how they make money.  Your eyes on their screen – and the ever present adverts.

To learn more about how your brain works, and start sending good messages to you brain, see the Resources for Life section here.


Relevant Viewing

* Why can’t we stop looking at our smartphones? And are the designers of the apps and content on them using brain science to keep us hooked? Anderson Cooper reports.