Red Pill TheoryOn addiction (self.TheRedPill)

submitted by [deleted]

Summary: Getting to know the addict

I had been playing Xbox since I woke up 15 hours ago. Two empty Dominos pizza boxes sat open on my desk just staring.

Right now it's 5 a.m.

Matchmaking is getting slow and my coffee thermos is empty; must be time for bed. I say goodnight to my fellow gamers and turn off the Xbox. The thought of brushing my teeth doesn't enter what's left of my consciousness. Without walking, I move from my chair to the bed.

Two missed calls and a text from my girlfriend.

The only source of light is the brightly lit screen of my laptop. As I type in "p," the text "pornhub.com" automatically appears in the URL of my browser. I'm excited before I even press "enter."

After finishing up, I close my eyes as YouTube lulls me to sleep.

A voice inside mumbles, "I hate myself..."

"If I hate myself, who is the I, and who is myself?"

Tomorrow will be the same.

Pleasure is what happens when your brain receives a signal that an activity is rewarding. The sender of that signal is a neurotransmitter called dopamine.

Almost everything we do releases dopamine. Some things release a lot of dopamine.

For instance, sex with the girl you've been with for 3 years releases dopamine. Surfing a porn website and jerking off to any number of your favorite fantasy scenarios releases a lot of dopamine.

Playing golf releases dopamine. Playing Rainbow Six Siege with your squad against teams that you're slightly better than releases a lot of dopamine.

Eating a strawberry or cucumber releases dopamine. Eating a pepperoni and mushroom pizza releases a lot of dopamine.

It might seem hard to believe that a cucumber releases dopamine, but it does.

The problem we have is we develop a tolerance to these dopamine spikes. Our brains come to expect that any activity less stimulating than a dopamine spiking one isn't worthy of our motivation to do so.

Thus, activities which were once pleasurable to us become chores we can't bear the thought of.

This is essentially what depression is.

When I'm depressed or simply stressed over a long period of time I become driven to do things like eat junk food, watch porn, and play video games. This is because these are some of the activities that release enough dopamine to motivate a depressed mind.

These are also things I did often as a kid, when my brain was the most malleable it will ever be. I developed certain connections in a my brain that will probably never go away.

For this reason, if you've ever known someone who had a drug problem early on in life, you know they will always be an addict. The connection is too strong for your brain to unlearn it.

The next day started just the same. I browsed Reddit in bed before I finally found enough gusto to get up and make coffee.

But then something happened.

As we played Xbox that night, we started to get matched up with pro teams. It was exciting-- until we started losing...and losing, and losing. It wasn't a pleasurable experience anymore.

The flow of dopamine stopped abruptly. I took that opportunity to return my Xbox to the store. It felt liberating--just like it did the other times.

The first time it was Wal-Mart, then Best Buy, you get the picture.

My pre-frontal cortex, or the consciously thinking part of the brain, did not want to buy Xboxes and play the shit out of them all day. As soon as its slave driver looked away, the real I started running and never looked back.

When you're under the influence of your addictions, you are like a slave having to watch his world crumble around him.

Last month my brother in law relapsed on heroin. He was 13 when his brain learned how rewarding it was.

He had a brand new home with my sister, a new car, and so many bills he was constantly under the stress of. For the first time in 9 years, he went to some dealer-- not Wal-Mart or Best Buy, but probably some hood dude in Detroit, and he became a slave.

He lost his family, job, and home.

He didn't want to lose any of those things. He was genuinely a good person.

My mission in life now is to treat my brain only to simple, natural pleasures. It's learning to appreciate things like cucumbers more every day.

A big part of my mission is staying mentally healthy in order to avoid depression and long term stress which would likely result in relapse.

Things that used to seem unimaginably painful are becoming small obstacles.

"The day the body becomes dominated by pleasure is the day it will also be dominated by pain" - Seneca

Lessons learned:

Almost anything unnaturally pleasurable can become addictive

The stronger your addiction's influence on you, the more you are a slave.

Stay mentally healthy to avoid being influenced by your addictions

[–]newliferestart 162 points163 points  (29 children)

Fantastic post. Did you notice that our society is run by addictions? Everyone has one. I think addictions like gaming, drugs, porn or facebook and many more are given to people just to keep us busy and distracted from what really matters... our real problems. We live in a virtual world, we care about what X superstar musician does and we don't even know him personally, his actions will never influence our life. Or play that stupid video game that isn't real and it doesn't give anything good for your life. Or even worse.. masturbate to porn. We must stay in reality! Instead of learning something new you are numbed by addictions.

[–][deleted] 47 points47 points

[permanently deleted]

[–]Ceadda_punorcok 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Great comic, reminds me of the book Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith by J. Anderson Thomson. all about how our instincts can be hijacked. Very short read well worth the time.

[–]1PrinceofSpades 24 points25 points  (0 children)

This is why I harp on people who mourn famous actors and musicians when they pass away, or care too much about professional sports and the men who play them.

When I see a professional game thanks to my housemate, my first thought is "damn, I wish I had been more motivated growing up because I wish I kept playing my sport." Yes, it's tinged with regret, but I also still feel the drive to step out on a pitch and play a pick up game of soccer, rugby, or flag football. I feel the desire to actually do some cardio in addition to my lift. I feel the drive to work harder because being healthy and playing sports is fun. Watching them is fucking not. Being a fan of other people is fucking not. Even if my dreams of becoming an author and a youtube celebrity don't pan out the glorious way I hope they will, I will still die knowing that I was being the entertainer, and not the entertained. I wrote, not read. I performed, not watched. I played, not cheered.

At OP, thank you. You elegantly put into words a point since been trying to get across to a number of people, as well as have needed to re-affirm within myself after a recent surgery to get myself back on the horse and away from the pain pills they gave me to heal with. I'll be sharing this with a small handful of people tonight or tomorrow who need it.

[–][deleted] 29 points30 points  (13 children)

Why do you think boredom exists? It's because we are bred to be busy buzzing workers who are always completing tasks for those who control us. When we find ourselves with no task to keep us busy, we are "bored". There should be no boredom. You should be thinking, exploring, discovering, and experiencing the beauty of the reality we live in.

fast food and porn exist to control the workers who don't matter. They need the pleasure to offset the absolute lack of purpose in their lives. And that is OK - in the hectic world we have built we need those workers just to support the society. If you don't believe me, that is alright too, but I know that we are in a prison... one that we are capable of using our minds to break out of.

[–]Yankee_Fever 34 points35 points  (11 children)

Some of you guys are blowing things way out of proportion. It is impossible to stay concentrated 100% of the time. I've tried it. After about 10 days you get burned the fuck out. Even when you are having results.

[–]thisishowiwrite 18 points19 points  (5 children)

Yeah, and this shit - "we are bred to be busy buzzing workers who are always completing tasks for those who control us". No mate, you're bored because you're fucking boring. I'm not bored, because I have shit going on.

[–]1PrinceofSpades 9 points10 points  (4 children)

Congratulations, you just described the difference between someone happy with his job, like yourself, and the grand majority of people, who pretty much feel like killing themselves every single morning because they have to go play wage slave.

While I'm currently in the latter category, at least I'm still chasing my ways out, and making sure to enjoy life's pleasures just to get through the meantime. Sex with a new girl, conquering the fear of talking to a new person, tasting a new beer, etc.

I might be busy as all hell, but I'm still a fucking slave. I'm not bored, but the shit I have going on needs to change.

[–]thisishowiwrite 1 point2 points  (3 children)

You aren't your job, though. It doesn't define you, it shouldn't take up the majority of your time, and it sure as shit shouldn't take up the majority of your effort - unless, of course, you're one of the lucky few who works for himself.

At least you're taking steps to get something else going on. My job is the least of my concerns. I am committed to my career, and fucking great at what I do - but I only learn skills for my own benefit, not my boss's.

[–]1PrinceofSpades 9 points10 points  (2 children)

40 hours a week with just over an hour commute there and back means my job is costing me ~51 hours a week. When you factor in time spent at the gym, it makes it hard to "break free" of the cycle. Thankfully I spend my weekends far more productively than the average bloke, but still. Really, I understand it's the commute at this current position I have a problem with, but I'd be much farther along with a part time that paid well enough to keep me going on a living wage for only 24 hours a week.

[–]thisishowiwrite 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Man there's still loads of time in your day! I study full time, with a full load, hold down a full job, run a student club, freelance with a couple of clients under my own brand, and I'm kicking off a time-consuming startup in late June - not bragging, but if you keep pushing yourself to do more, you'll be able to.

I highly recommend picking up a side project. Every person I've ever known to become truly successful did it outside of work hours.

It sucks and you'll repeatedly fail and feel like you're getting nowhere, but I guess it's like the gym - the harder you fail today, the further you'll get tomorrow.

Good luck man.

[–]1PrinceofSpades 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I'm writing a novel, designing a website with a good friend of mine, and am in the works for starting up a sketch comedy YouTube channel with some other friends for kicks.

Each project is fun, and all of them have the potential to make me rich. No used to run an online business at 22 and made over 100,000usd. The mistake I made was paying off too much student debt at once, going all in on a big sale, and having the worst happen, losing everything, including my car in a huge auto accident a few days later. I started back up with 20 dollars and 60 pounds lighter after my surgical recovery.

What irritates me is how much leg work I have to do to get back to where I was, not so much where I am today. I was a free man for life had I played my hand better though, and now I'm a slave. I'm a much better off slave than a lot of my peers, but a slave nonetheless until one of my side projects can find graduate school and an MBA for me.

Or you know, let me retire pre-30.

[–][deleted] 4 points5 points  (4 children)

It's not about staying concentrated as you say. These addictions are also concentration. Concentrating on having that next cigarette. ...or the one in hand. Or the next bite to eat, or hit of whatever. We don't want to eliminate addictions so that we can concentrate, rather we want to eliminate addictions so that we can clear the things that are in the way of stillness. Stillness is where real power lies. I wake up in the morning and my first thought is "get food." Even food is an addiction and if can eliminate this "thing that is in the way" then I can become closer to stillness and most likely find it easier to forgive my dad for that thing or have mercy on my coworker for that other thing. A person or group of people that is addicted, is just moving from one thing to the next...one reaction to another without control. The same exact zombies that are in all the video games we play, not realizing the joke is on us, because the zombie apocalypse is here and we are those fucking zombies.

[–]Yankee_Fever 0 points1 point  (3 children)

Yeah I don't know man. You're making a lot of assumptions. Sure we all have addictions but that's just human nature. I know where you're coming from with the zombie thing but your getting a little too conspiracy theory for me. Im 24, I work 6 days a week and I'm constantly thinking of ideas to make money. I've had a lot of success in the past with capitalizing on my ideas, and it still takes me fucking forever to put them into motion. If I put them in motion I know for a fact I could be making about 1300$ a week cash. I don't play video games, I don't have any kind of personal social media accounts, I've cut back on alcohol a lot and I'm still somewhat stagnant.

I think we have unconscious mechanisms that hold us back because reaching the next level brings uncertainty, and may challenge our sense of security. We hold on to false presumptions we have and rationalize why we haven't taken the next step. Listen man I have fears about about posting stuff online that I know could make me an extra 2-300 dollars a week. It's literally fail proof, and for some unconscious reason I haven't pulled the trigger yet.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, people are out to get us. But not as much as everyone likes to think. A bunch of really smart salesman and marketing experts just exploit human nature. We exploit our own human nature weather we know it or not. Nobody got together in a room somewhere and decided to create this regime thats sole intention was to cripple the mass public. That's just what transpires when you have enough resources to manipulate the human psyche.

You mentioned video games, here is an example you may like. When bungie came up with the destiny IP their goal wasn't to have a bunch of people hooked on some shit that exploits the fuck out of people's minds. It was to build a badass universe and a game that people loved. When the game was in its final stages and fine tuning is when they implemented lab rat tactics.

[–]aznredpill 0 points1 point  (2 children)

Can you give me a source or some info about how these "lab rat tactics" were implemented into Destiny?

I'd like to know more about their addiction manufacturing and how it affects me as someone who plays games.

[–]Yankee_Fever 0 points1 point  (1 child)

Search on youtube for destiny gambling. Or destiny addictive.

I specifically used the words lab rats because the bungie guys used the term when they were discussing the psychology behind halo

[–]Pastelitomaracucho 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Reddit is mine. I need to break it.

[–]piquete91 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is exactly what I've been thinking about for a week or two , and I think I may have red a post a while back on here about this. Most people are happy to just be spectators - in fact our society encourages it through every avenue - tv - shows and ads, radio, billboards, video games, Facebook and all social media, even Reddit, etc. saying "hey you don't need to do that thing you like, you can just watch it instead! You don't have to go out and have real interactions with friends - you can play Xbox live with them!" The list goes on. People become extremely attached - though not addicted I'd say - to living vicariously through others, and this is where addictions form. You live vicariously through your team winning, or a stupid commercial on exercise and you feel great, you think "I can do this" but you don't and soon you're addicted to tv, or eating shit food, saying " one day I'll be x but for now I can do this unhealthy activity " because we are already satisfied to a degree that makes obtaining our goals and reaching our full potential secondary to watching others do so.

[–]poochman 0 points1 point  (0 children)

Just think of food, as OP has pointed out. Foods with added processed sugar is just playing to the addiction for our taste of sweetness. Likewise, fatty foods with processed oils. It's an addiction that can have negative consequences in your life just like anything else.

[–][deleted] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

A lot of these things are fine in moderation, too. People play games or pmo in moderation and are fine. But far too many people can't cut themselves off and take it as far as they can.