Technology addiction and the end of productivity

My sister says that each time we get a new text or email on our cell phone, the little ‘ding’ that signals its arrival causes the release of dopamine or serotonin or whatever chemical makes things pleasurable and addictive. So, being on our phones really is as addictive as, say, gambling can be.

And just the same as it is with gambling, in which coming close to winning can give you the same rush as actually winning, it doesn’t matter that YOU KNOW the text or email you just received is not likely to contain exciting news or even interesting information, you still get the rush. I don’t know if the dopamine or serotonin is released because we anticipate the social connection that can be provided by a text, post, email or tweet. But studies show our social ties are the most important contributor to our happiness. The question is, if we can gratify our need for social connection by texting, posting, tweeting and emailing all day, why do anything else?

Why go to the trouble of, say, creating something (a business, art, etc.), when creating is often hard, and texting, posting and emailing is easy?

One answer is because creating stuff offers its own rewards. And doing hard things (like creating stuff) is usually, ultimately, more rewarding than doing easy things (like surfing the Net). As for the social interactions we have online, many of them are arguably not as rewarding as the social interactions we have or could be having in person.

I’m a writer, I work at home, and I don’t have a boss. In other words, I can be online all day. And I am. I’m totally addicted. And it’s making me miserable. (I want the social interactions I get online, but I want to enjoy them quickly and then get offline, so that I can do or make something.) I should ask for help, but like a true addict, I don’t want to. I think I can beat this on my own. (Haha.) I am now going to try to limit my time online. Starting tomorrow. (Haha.)

Who’s with me? Anyone?

“Falling out of Love with Twitter” by Maude Apatow

What is the definition of addiction—when you feel compelled to continue doing something that no longer brings you pleasure? Something like that. Anyway, I’m addicted to being online, and this post from 14-year-old Maude Apatow’s blog,, is a good description of the “fun” and misery of being addicted to Twitter in particular:

“I used to write more, before I got addicted to technology. I was going through my old journals from elementary school, pre-cell phone, and saw that I wrote so many short stories and poems. The excuse I tell myself is that I don’t have time, but that isn’t true. I do have time, but I am wasting it reading tweets and looking at Willow Smith’s Instagram. The amount of time that I spend on my phone scares me. The amount of time I see other people on their phones makes me realize that what I’m doing isn’t important and I shouldn’t be wasting my time. Getting invested in other people’s relationships just makes you feel bad about yourself and maybe feeling bad feels good sometimes.

I read into technology too much and it makes me sad. I take every “like” and “follow” personally. I take everything personally in real life as well, so maybe it isn’t different. Constantly having something to do like check Twitter, Facebook and Instagram makes me feel like I don’t have time to do other things like write or read. I feel like my brain is getting smaller and I can’t think of any new ideas to write about. Sometimes when I start thinking about things that make me upset or I feel like I am thinking too much, I go on my phone to shut my brain down. I have been thinking about checking my phone the entire time I have been writing this.

I put so much pressure on myself to make sure my writing is good (whatever that means) that I stopped. I gave up and got involved in social networking. All I think about when I don’t have my phone is checking it. When I don’t have it, I don’t feel safe. (I secretly think one of the many reasons I didn’t like summer camp was missing my phone and feeling disconnected.)

Why do I tweet? I like Twitter because reading about what other people are doing makes you forget about what you have to do. I like Twitter because it makes me laugh. I like Twitter because it informs me when something important has happened. I like Twitter because it makes me feel closer to celebrities that I know I will never be close to. I like Twitter because reading about crazy things other people do makes me feel normal. I like Twitter because people are so nice to me and it makes me feel happy.

I hate Twitter because it consumes me and I never stop thinking about it. I hate Twitter because it fills my brain with sad news and events. I hate Twitter because people are so mean to me for no reason and I don’t understand why. I hate Twitter because it exposes me to disgusting people who bully others. I hate Twitter because when I get mean messages, I like to look for mean messages about other people I like, because it makes me feel better, like I’m not the only one. I hate Twitter because it makes me jealous. I hate Twitter because it makes me feel bad about myself. I hate Twitter because it makes me feel good about myself.

I bet I will tweet this article.”