Stories of young people dying from drugs fill our news. We hear about the addictiveness of cocaine, LSD, pornography, even alcohol. Damaged relationships and broken bodies result from these addictions.
But what of the other, more acceptable addictions? The things we don’t even think about?
Video games, television shows, rock music, news. Those seem innocuous and innocent compared to the chemical and emotional addictions listed above.
But are they?
The 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases has identified addiction to video games as a disorder.
Places like “Camp Pocono Trails” that helps treat technology addictions, and their “Summerland” program for gaming addictions, and others have cropped up over the years to help people untangle their technologically addicted lives.
And, yes, cell phones are addictive as well. The number of downloaded apps on any phone are overwhelming and often not needed. And many tend to spend hours of their precious lives tapping from one app to another, seeking distractions, news updates, “communicating” with friends and family…or indulging in the latest information regarding their favorite games or hobbies.
TV watching, whether on Netflix, Hulu, or whatever it is, is addictive. People have their big screen TVs playing from the moment they get up (for “news”) to the moment they go to be (“to relax”). The noise and distractions are addictive. People who feel lonely use the noise as an excuse so they don’t feel alone.
Rock music? Yes, Rock Music. Tribal music used the rhythmic beats and constant droning of drums to excite the emotions before going to war. States of euphoria and mesmerization would occur during trance-like ceremonies of indiginous people. Those occasions went on for long periods of time to accomplish the compliance from the people and engage them in the direction they were to go. War or spiritual enlightenment.
Today, it is not unusual to hear young and older people blaring their tunes to the world around them. Bumpers and air foils on the backs of cars clatter from the booming of ill-located bass speakers hidden in trunks. Tiny sounds of repetitious, electronic instruments pour out of even closed windows of cars as they pass by. And the annoying few who keep their music with profane language turned up high to infiltrate even the ears of the innocent children sitting in their parent’s cars at gas stations.
To ask those owners of said stereo systems to please turn down their music is akin to starting a war.
Most people just endure the noise.
The beat is addictive. It is designed to be. It is energizing. And it produces dopamine, just like any activity or drug can do. It can open up doors of the brain to increased cognative abilities, or incite fragile emotions to irrational behaviors.
The beat also can numb out the sense of reason and moral decision-making. Emotionally enticing or exciting repetitious beats can hide immoral or violent lyrics.
One does not find the Beatles in the music boxes of baby toys. Instead, even pregnant mothers have been encouraged to feed Mozart into their tummies to produce more intelligent children, and are encouraged to include it as they grow. (See The Role of Music in Brain Development, Ultrahuman Cyborg, We Have Kids, Stem for Everyone)
If one were to take a room filled with children and feed rock music into the air, the children begin to bounce and twirl, becoming rowdy and, depending on the intensity of the sound, uncontrollable.
But take those same children and play Mozart instead, those children become relaxed and engaging in activities such as drawing and reading. Their inner being appears to be at rest.
Affects of music
Music can be used to entice behavior. And certain types of music, such as rock music, can become a sort of soothing drug, numbing the mind from things that are troubling. Dopamine can also uplift the moods and bring a sense of energy. It is a dopamine rush.
When anything fun becomes too much of a good thing, the effects begin to break down. The person needs a higher and higher hit to keep up that level of pleasure. It becomes an addiction, not a tool used for benefit.
What about news?
How many people do you know get up in the morning and turn on their television to the news? Do you find coworkers thumbing through their cell phones looking for the latest information?
Both sides of the political aisle are searching for something in the news. They look for glimmers of hope that there is proof that their side is “winning”. They are seeking assurance that peace is around the corner. And they are always desiring to know what is going on.
It’s almost a form of voyeurism, although not with the same sexual proclivity. It appeals to the controlling side of man. He equally is attracted to the horrors of the day as well as the victories.
News feeds are addictive. They are mostly filled with negativity and propaganda. It is advertising at its worst.
And it is addictive.
It is Lent. During this time of year, it is an opportunity for self-reflection. And fasting from things that we are addicted to. It is a time to regain that lost inner peace.
This year, pick an addiction for Lent. Give it 40 days to remove it from your life. Substitute it with something better.
Our bodies require a form of dopamine hit. But that form doesn’t need to come from an addiction to distractions and things that do not result in inner calm.
Create a substitution…
Pick up exercising, like running or heart racing physical activities. Even if they last only a few minutes, they are far more beneficial than sitting on the couch watching a movie.
Explore new places. Remove yourself from the sources of the addictions. Especially when the attraction to that addiction is strongest.
Give yourself time and treat yourself gently when you fall. You are human, not God.
If He can show you mercy, you have no excuses to give yourself the same slack.
And don’t give up...
Soon enough, you will become lost in the present moment and the beauty that surrounds you.
If all hell breaks loose on earth, you’ll be the first to know. You will know because your connection with your environment will tell you. You will be at already prepared, already connected, and already released from your addictions that kept you tied to the meaningless things of this world. Peacefullness will become your source of strength.
And in your search for inner peace, you will have finally found that small inner voice – the voice of God.