Perspectives: A Dopamine Addiction 

A few weeks ago I wrote about addressing the question of what men want. Part of this asked why – especially as millennials – we can no longer form any meaningful relationships. What I didn’t do, was answer it. But it’s been playing on my mind… So I’m left asking why. 

I recall Maverick hitting the nail on the head when we spoke about it. His reply to the question, was quite simply, the internet. I agree. But it must be more than just the internet – although access to it, the rise in social media and the influence of pornography all play a massive part – there have to be other underlying factors right?

As millennials we have effectively been brought up in an ‘entitled’ culture. That is to say, we believe that we are inherently deserving of privileges and special treatment. Look at Justin Bieber. I love him, like totally went to his concert in November at the O2, but bloody hell is he an asshole. He behaves in a demeaning way towards others and puts little effort into his work because he’s now a brand, and that itself sells to the market. Everything has been given to him with minimal work, and it’s no longer become a case of him working hard to stay there or improve. Gone is the dedication we saw from the Jackson Five, The Beatles or David Bowie. It wasn’t ever handed to them. They consistently worked at it.

Sex is a key example of this belief of entitlement. Friday night I was out with the bestie, and we met some people we used to go to primary school with. I haven’t seen them in years, and one guy in particular said that he and I should link. He even messaged the bestie about me and this link the very next day to see what I was about. I say no, and he blames the bestie for he and I not linking up on because she wanted to go home. I said no because I’m not interested. It’s this belief of entitlement that allows them to think it’s right to have their way with any woman of their choosing because they donned a pair of Giuseppe’s for the night. In reality not having it go their way bruises egos, and unveils actuality. 

To touch a woman inappropriately has become almost normal, whether it be ‘playful’ or because you want them. The internet and accessibility of pornography play a huge role in that. The amount of videos that see women gagged, bound and touched inappropriately within fantasies that lead to sex, have effectively become the norm on the internet. What I feel millennials believe, is that this is reality, rather than a hyperextension of a fantasy. That this is the expectation from both women and men. In real life when this occurs, it is done so by two consenting adults who are fully aware of what they are doing. Where mutual trust is integral to the situation, as is respect. They aren’t treated this way outside of the bedroom, dungeon, sex chamber – take your pick – because it is a private fantasy, and not reality. The internet fails to teach us that, because real-life isn’t all that great.

This is why social media has become so vital to a millennial’s way of life. Sites like Facebook and Instagram have fast become areas of self-promotion – and not in a business or career sense – but to tell the world we have the greatest lives imaginable. To strengthen our low self-esteem and get that dopamine hit. With the world realising this, we welcomed Snapchat. ‘Hey ‘friends’ – read that as people I don’t really know – check out my story and how amazing my life is. Oh my god I got 500 views on my story!’ ‘I got xxx likes on that pic, let me take more photos in the same seductive pose and sexy pout’. No. I’m not judging, I’m merely making an observation. I’m just as much of a victim. Of my last six Instagram posts, five of them include me pouting…

The likes, the views, the text messages release dopamine. It’s a chemical high that makes us feel good. Making us feel liked, needed, wanted. Whereas when you are with someone long term, you don’t feel the hit because that like, need and want is always there. Which makes us think it’s boring, or not working out, or not good enough, and then we leave. Without trying to make something work. Without putting in the effort, because we can go and find something more easily accessible by swiping right on our phones, or looking appealing. Queue making your biceps pop, or a perky bum, and you’ll have a queue of people flocking towards you.

Millennials have superficial friendships. This breaks my heart. People our age have admitted that they would ditch their friends if something better came along. My friend actually believed I would do this to them. This friend of mine is so lovely and I really enjoy spending time with them. They make plans, double check that it’s okay a few days later and then the night before we are due to catch up will message and say ‘are you sure you can do tomorrow? Don’t worry if you have other plans…’ If I’ve made plans to see you, I’m not double-booking myself. If I’m not interested in spending time with you or catching up with a friend, I’d make my excuses before even saying yes. We shouldn’t be thinking of something better coming along. We no longer value what we have, and if we have to constantly question any relationships that we do have with people, what are we doing?

I believe we have forgotten – or it could be that perhaps we were never told or shown for that matter – that we shouldn’t just be allowed to have everything we want. That we shouldn’t just throw things away if there is a crack in it. We no longer understand how to fix things, or even to begin to try. We forget that looks fade, but personality stays. We want what we can’t have and when we finally do get it, it’s never as good as we think it’ll be, which disappoints us further.  

We need to switch off and re-evaluate how we see each other and the world. If we learn to break away from the cycle, to put down the phone, turn off the internet, and tune into the world around us, we might actually be able to build relationships that last. 

 

 

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