What happens to our brains when we become dependent on technology?

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While on the radio show Tuesday, Glenn and Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last, discussed how the chemicals in our brain react to certain actions and achievements. One of the most powerful chemicals in the brain is dopamine, which makes us feel good but only comes in short bursts. Hitting milestones or achievements can result in a quick hit of dopamine, but so can artificial stimulants like alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and even technology. What happens when people become too dependent on these substances to feel good?

“We know that just like alcohol, gambling, nicotine that we know our cell phones release a burst of dopamine.  And so again a little bit of alcohol is fine too much alcohol is what’s dangerous.  Some gambling is fine.  Too much is dangerous.  Our cell phones are great they’re wonderful machines, but out of balance like all addiction, eventually we will waste resources, waste time and destroy relationships,” Simon said.

Have you ever seen a couple out at a restaurant where both people are on their phones and ignoring one another? That’s a sign of an unhealthy addition to technology.

 (Smart phones) have addictive qualities and so the concern is that, as teenagers, as they go through adolescence, like alcohol, they have social media and they have their phones and they accidentally are forming neural connections, where when they’re going through times of stress and they should be relying on each other, they are turning to machines,” Simon said.

The fear is that that will develop to addictions and it will exaggerate as we move forward into time.  We are already starting to see a rise in suicides, for example.  I mean, this affects all generations,” he added. ”  The CDC announced about a year ago that more Boomers now die from suicide than car accidents.  In other words, what we’re seeing is a rise of loneliness and isolation.  No one kills themselves when they are hungry.  We kill ourselves when we’re lonely.  In the 1960s, there were one school shooting.  In the 1980s, there were 27.  In the 1990s, there were 58.  In the past decade, there have been over 120.  It has nothing to do with guns.  It has to do with people feeling lonely.”

“The gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby, however they want to define themselves, would best serve society instead of throwing rocks at each other sat, down together and figure out how do we combat the loneliness that people are feeling. 70 percent of the school shooters were born after the year 1980, most of them are about 15 years old.  All of them attacked people within their own community and attack the people they blamed responsible for their own loneliness.”

“I may hug you,” Glenn said. “Thank you for actually saying that.  Something is missing in us.  There have been guns forever.  A kid in the 1960s could go and buy a gun, they didn’t use it.”

“Just recently UC Santa Barbara the shootings there, that kid may made those horribly chilling videos. He felt lonely and isolated because he was a virgin and he sought to find comfort on online support groups.  There is no online support group that can give you the same warmth and comfort and security than real, human, loving relationships.  And you see it’s chilling how he makes this video, how he’s excited, he’s actually excited to go shoot up the sorority, the people he blames for his sense of loneliness and isolation, because it’s the first time he feels a sense of control over his own life,” Simon added.

Simon pointed to the Twelve Step program for alcoholics, and how the final step is help another alcoholic, as an example of the importance of human relationships.

You know, we have an entire on the bookshelf called self-help we have no section on the bookshelf called help others.  We have become all about ourselves and yet the amazing thing if you want to find the job you love, help somebody find the job they love.  If you want to find somebody they love, help someone who is looking for love.  If you want do find happiness, help somebody else who is looking.  That’s how we do it.  And it feels so good when we do that that it actually encourages us to want to do it more.  We are built for service and when we create — this is the point of leadership.  When we create environments in which we feel safe amongst each other we will look after each other, when we create environments in which we fear each other, we will work to our own interests, we will being paranoid, cynical mistrustful of leadership, and it’s a lonely existence,” Simon said.

Glenn said these ideas are why he feels a kinship with Simon Sinek.

Glenn said, “Anyone who has been in our audience when we go to Restoring Love, Restoring Courage, Restoring Honor, when we have done Man in the Moon – when you are there and you are together as a community, you know that everybody has your back.  You know that there’s no hatred, there’s no anger.  There’s service and love for one another.  You connect with people that you feel you’ve known your whole life, but you don’t.  You don’t know those people, but you feel like you do because we have common values.  And those values are not politics.  They’re just  ‘I just want to be a good person.  I just want to help you.’”