Existential Culture War - It's as simple as Dopamine Addiction (hypothesis)


#1

Amygdala Hijack - The hijacking of our psyche through focus on issues, concerns, and the feelings evoked. Leading to long term behavioral changes at both the individual (inner quadrants) to mass societal Dopamine Desynthesization and addiction for more and more.

I find this a fascinating concept that Critical Theory practitioners living in what I might call the “Issue Domains”, “World of Problems”, “Domain of what’s Broken” - main stream media (views, clicks, leading to advertising revenues), Leftist demand for immediate changes at all costs (power, control of our governmental bodies), decriminalization of drugs/crimes (I feel, therefor ok to commit crimes - erosion of our secular structures), destabilization of our religions (destabilizing our peace, calming, beyond secular morality, beyond rational faith structures).

Meanwhile, disproportionately our Leftist brothers, sisters, and children are also disproportionately experiencing higher rates of anxiety, depression, and tragically suicide at increasingly younger ages.

I’ve been wondering how many of the “existential threats demanding global solutions at all costs, immediately” have played out. We can easily take a forensic look at this things. Perhaps minor example, but remember the “Disappearing Honey Bees” which will then lead to loss of fruit and vegetable crops, and collapse of society due to starvation? I “bit hard” on this “existential threat” as I love bees. That was around 2010 with massive media blitz and documentaries. And here we are in 2021 - calling the Bee Rescue Crew to take swarms out of our attics, still staring microscopically at the bees on flowers in the yard, smacking on those peaches and tomatoes from the backyard. Even the Africanized “killer bees” aren’t seemingly killing people and animals on sidewalks outside the yoga studios as predicted.

So why do we have this bifurcation in those that go through life looking for the next “existential crisis” vs those that live in perhaps a “world of opportunity and beauty”. Could it be as simple as seemingly minor predilection towards dopamine addiction have been amplified into creating our “culture war”. Is it possible that something this simple could be “root cause” of our seeming societal bifurcation?

Excerpt:
Our brains evolved this fine-tuned balance over millions of years in which pleasures were scarce and dangers ever-present. The problem today is that we no longer live in that world. Instead, we now live in a world of overwhelming abundance. The quantity, variety and potency of highly reinforcing drugs and behaviors has never been greater.


#2

Well, yes.
It’s not just pleasure - it’s also fear and anger.

My own personal theory is that anger isn’t actually a primary emotion - every time I’ve looked into why a person was angry, there was fear or sadness deep at it’s core that the person didn’t want to face.
We have a very high percent of the population that are very afraid and also very sad. Most people rarely encounter true joy in their lives. Maybe at childbirth or a few other rare situations, but by and large people live in fear and sadness. The sadness we can probably trace to modern life and separations from things that create true joy. Fear is a funny thing - in our modern life we rarely have actually anything real to fear. There aren’t tigers in cities - so it’s mostly our imagined or societal fears except in specific cases.
People consumed by fear and sadness want a solution, but all of the things being pushed onto them through mass media the are sex and fear - which is redirected to anger directed at a group.
It’s very important to realize that this isn’t just the “liberal” media - but all medias. All Media only exists to sell you a product. Redirecting the feelings of depression and activating fear, anger and / or sexual arousal is the most direct route to sell a product.


#3

You’ve given a pretty good description of the Amygdala’s function. I found Daniel Goleman’s “Emotional IQ” (the first version) to be quite life changing 20 years ago or so. Highly recommended and easy read.

Contrast with say the Walter Cronkite style news of 20-30 years ago, or the cult classic spoof “Anchorman” with the founding of the good news channel GNN.

Edit: book is Emotional Intelligence - highly recommended


#4

Back then the news was highly edited to be not too disturbing> It was on during prime time and even the 10:00 late night news was still very “safe”.
For me the big change in the News came with the Rodney King beating, The LA Riots and the infamous OJ Simpson highway chase. In the early 1990’s the Network News ABC, NBC, CBS continued to be “feel-good” News while CNN became the 24/7 Global Warfare News or whatever dramatic thing was going on. FOX later perfected the 24/7 Hate Network News model.
The 1994 film Natural Born Killers was a perfect satire of what the news was going to become.


#5