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.'”

  • Moozmom

    I watched this program and was amazed. The discussion was so informative today. The effect of dopamine, etc. in the brain and what actions release these feel good chemicals was eye opening as well as being told humans are built to do good. Thank you! Having lived a long life, I have found that life is truly a paradox in so many, many ways and to find yourself you must lose yourself first. This program was stellar. Much dopamine was released in my brain during the show, partly because I was crocheting a baby afghan for my first grandchild and was dreaming of wrapping the baby in it.

  • landofaahs

    If you don’t use it you lose it. ’nuff said.

  • landofaahs

    The same thing that happens when you depend on government. You become dependent and cannot think for yourself and you become a democrat.

  • http://daveposh.org/ Dave Posh

    Great show, all three hours! I have put together this info if you want to hear or read more about Simon Sinek (I have just listened to his four TEDx talks).

    Simon Sinek


    Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action – October 29, 2009

    Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t – January 7, 2014


    Start with why – how great leaders inspire action: Simon Sinek at TEDxPugetSound
    Uploaded on Sep 28, 2009

    TEDxSanDiego – Simon Sinek – Restoring the Human in Humanity
    Uploaded on Feb 4, 2011

    TEDxMaastricht – Simon Sinek – “First why and then trust”
    Uploaded on Apr 6, 2011

    Responsibility and Leadership: Simon Sinek at TEDxColumbiaCollege
    Published on May 17, 2013

    Website referenced on Glenn Beck radio show:


  • http://truthofg.blogspot.com/ Connor Kenway

    Does anyone realize we are watching this through the internet? I am just saying that just because some people are clued to Technology does not mean we are all going to go nuts and kill people or kill ourselves.

  • Anonymous

    Sad to think how many people are lonely if they are addicted to rely on other people’s friendship. Forget about being addicted to technology, people have to learn how to be comfortable being alone with themselves. Seems like the people who shoot up schools are lonely because they find they are lacking in being self-confident and they hate who they see in the mirror. As for the couple who were together while doing stuff on their computer they were together. These days together seems to mean present but not having to talk to each other. Yeah, that might mean being addicted to tech but it could also mean another way of being around each other. Like being around and talking to one another are two different things. Doesn’t make it right just makes it different. But Simon is right about how wrong it seemed to him. Hopefully the couple agreed that other people could be part of their togetherness before they started the tech stuff.

  • Anonymous

    so that’s my problem! LOL
    Tired of our government creating crisis to enslave us and our children?

  • Lee Wilson

    I will not offer the Democrat nor Republican nonsense all of us are humans. there are some good people doing there best to do good then there are those that are evil, vile and seek there own. this happens in all areas of government and civilian life.
    we can not state one or the other is evil. For it is there person, not there title that makes them good or evil.

    now as for tech, it is neither good nor bad, it is how we use it that becomes good or bad.
    FIL your minds with the word of God and well, God pretty much answers that question on addiction.

  • rambler

    It is the difference between looking for validation from inner work or outside sources. There is too much attached to artificial criteria for validating oneself. Technology can be used to expand skills or to build a fantasy world for escaping reality. Too many are addicted to the fantasy world which give no emotional or spiritual support.

  • Anonymous

    Yesterday I had to call out a person sitting next to me in a meeting who was playing Angry Birds while another person was giving a presentation.

    I am a computer engineer and I hate the fact that my work is adding to the destruction of society

  • David Wheeler

    The way most people who don’t use technology talk about it is hilarious. The idea that the activity of texting and playing video games are handled the same way in your brain is ridiculous. The reason that people my age are seen texting “all the time” isn’t because they’re addicted to it.

    Think of it this way: If you’re at a party or in a room with a bunch of people, aren’t there people you’d choose to talk to over others? Well, technology offers the opportunity for that room to be the size of your entire social group. That opportunity is hard not to take up.

    It isn’t because my generation is addicted to technology that they ignore people around them in favor of their electronic devices. It’s because they would prefer to talk to or be around other people… Usually to their detriment.

  • Pocahontas

    Having these kind of converations does help me. Keeping them on a positive note, is a challenge. At least we are all coming to the table to talk. If we are all good people, lets just try to help out with that by making it a productive conversation. Technology Rocks!

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