On Concentration and Dopamine

With our heavy use of digital media, it could be said that we have taken multitasking to new heights, but we’re not actually multitasking; rather, we are switching rapidly between different activities. Adrenaline and cortisol are designed to support us through bursts of intense activity, but in the long term cortisol can knock out the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which help us feel calm and happy, affecting our sleep and heart rate and making us feel jittery.

Harriet Griffey – “The Lost Are of Concentration: Being Distracted in a Digital World

Interesting — the thought that our actions on social media and our inability to concentrate on one task could theoretically cause the rise of depression and anxiety via hormones. It’s long been known that heavy use of social media has a direct effect whether we feel anxious or happy, but the thought that our actions are replacing one set of hormones (dopamine and serotonin) with another (adrenaline and cortisol), and that’s the cause, actually brings me some hope. This would mean that behavioral/habit changes could bring us back to the point where we want to be — focused, creative, calm.

What we need, then, is communities and social groups that help us to form habits over and against the prevailing, standard habits that a society plagued by technocracy sort of “automatically” gives us.

Alan Jacobs on Technocracy

Their great fear is that, if the war is won by technological prowess, then why shouldn’t the technocrats who won the war be given the task of rebuilding society after the war? And this is what all the figures in the book were afraid of — that the winning of the war would actually inaugurate a technocracy that would be extremely difficult to displace from its throne. And they were exactly right. That’s what we got. If they wanted to prevent that from happening, they started too late. The technocracy was already largely in place, and as soon as the major American universities — and Harvard is the signal case here, under James Bryant Conant — explicitly put themselves in service to what Eisenhower would later call the “military-industrial complex,” then technocracy had a death-grip on our social order.

“Christianity and Resistance – An Interview with Alan Jacobs”

The question for us, post-technocracy, is: how ought we resist technocracy as all-consuming, and is that even possible?