Tuesday, November 25, 2014

the urge to feel superior to others might be the most powerful addiction of all

We can't unify against efforts to chemically manipulate our brains, bc the urge to feel superior to others might be the most powerful addiction of all.

Think about it: what does a civilization want from people like you and me? It wants citizen who work all day, sleep all night, and spend their free time sitting motionless on the sofa and/or engaging in commerce. Not out committing crimes, or rioting in the streets, or getting people riled up demanding "change." It wants stability, in other words.

This, for instance, is why hardly anyone dares speak a word against caffeine -- the room you're in is filled with goods manufactured by people downing Red Bull and coffee to get through a double shift. That's not the case for tobacco -- cigarettes don't make you a better worker or soldier, and in fact they hurt your productivity by taking you out of the workforce early. Meth makes you a great worker ... for like 20 hours, but then you pass out on the floor for the next 20.

That's how it works -- if a certain percentage of users of a product become sick or unemployable, the government will step in. The system is against the addictions that destabilize the system, but conversely is absolutely in favor of the ones that support it. And that's where shit gets real, because ...

Ultimately, This Is What the System Wants

I mentioned in that previous article about video game addiction that one thing that drives addiction is avoidance of something else -- you leap at the chance to play an "addictive" video game because you want it to suck your mind away from work or your personal life. You want to turn off your brain and sit motionless on the sofa. And that works out just fine for society -- here's what's happened to the crime rate in the years since video games and the Internet went mainstream; it went down, dramatically.

There are a bunch of reasons for that decline, but a big one is that young people simply have hobbies that don't bring them in physical contact -- get mad at somebody over Facebook, and nobody gets stabbed. This is why online harassment is so rampant and also why nobody gives a shit: sending email rape threats is what they want the sociopaths to be doing -- because in reality they're still just staring at a glowing screen, motionless. Did I mention that when you introduce Internet porn to a population, real-life sexual assault goes down? That's where you want the deviants, too -- motionless, perched in front of a glowing screen, molesting a wad of Kleenex.

So now you're kind of rooting for it, right? But remember, the system wants to pacify you, too. The system needs impoverished customer service workers, and it needs those impoverished customer service workers to be OK with that situation. And the way you pacify a person is by reducing their life goals to a list that's one item long: feeding their addiction. An addict can become OK with anything -- their status in life, their dead-end job, the system overall -- as long as they're getting their fix.

After all, there's a reason society is coming around on weed legalization -- it may not have the chemical addiction of meth, but it sure as hell makes you OK with sitting motionless on your sofa. That's why I find it hilarious that weed is such a symbol of hippies and the counterculture. If you're working all day to make money to buy weed, then spending your free time stoned on the sofa, you're the perfect drone. Now tell me you don't know at least one person who's fine with living paycheck to paycheck, as long as they can dominate at League of Legends every night.

That feels like a tragedy to me. Remember, those pleasure centers in the brain we're letting someone else hijack were put there for a reason. We evolved to feel a high from a successful hunt, or winning a battle, or securing food, or making a friend, or finding a lover. Improving your life, in other words. Once they can decode how to induce those feelings of bliss with various combinations of chemicals or stimulus, the game is over. The chemicals will always be more attainable than the actual pleasures they're replacing.

So we wind up living with this weird double standard in which we decide our addictions are either harmless or the result of an uncontrollable urge, while other people's addictions are a moral failing on their part. Go to any comment section for a video/photo/article mentioning the overweight. You'll find hundreds of nasty comments about fat people -- how they're lazy, disgusting, have no respect for themselves, etc. -- and approximately 100 percent of those comments will be coming from people who have at least one addiction of their own. That is, in fact, one of the key mechanisms of addiction.

See, because a food addiction is a shameful, disgusting display of moral weakness, but this Red Bull, beer, and weed in my apartment -- they're just what a cool dude needs to relax and get through the week. In fact, you could follow one of those fat-hating guys to another forum and listen to him boast about how much weed he smokes, and how much beer it takes to get him drunk, and how many times he jerks off in a week. As if all of those are badass, manly accomplishments and not stark evidence of his own paper-thin impulse control.

Or, notice how they sneer at the overweight for their lack of self-control, but then demonstrate no control whatsoever over their own impulse to say horrible things about other people. That fat person can resist a cupcake for a hell of a lot longer than that commenter resisted being an asshole.

This is addiction's divide-and-conquer tactic. And it's the reason most of you will find it impossible to take this article seriously.

The fat-phobic dude above would never regard himself as being on the same team as the overeater, despite the fact that both are dealing with stress by self-medicating with a dopamine rush (yes, cruelty is addictive). When your aforementioned grandpa rants about the kids today and their drugs, he's doing it around a cigar and a bottle of vodka. The woman who downs two pots of coffee a day turns up her nose at the smoker, the smoker turns up his nose at the fat guy, right up until the day the smoker quits and promptly becomes a fat guy himself.....He just swapped one two-pack-a-day habit for another.

In a perfect world, that guy would then stop and say, "Well, that's interesting. It's almost like we're all just self-medicating in different ways, and we all need to rethink how we consume things and why." But, more likely, he'll read an article about "social media addiction" and roll his eyes. "You want to know about real addiction, honey? Try quitting smoking some time! All you need to do is turn off the damned Facebook!" We can't unify against efforts to chemically manipulate our brains, because the urge to feel superior to others might be the most powerful addiction of all.

As long as we think we can fight addiction with shame, it will be impossible for us to have an open, honest discussion about the subject (which is surprising, because trying to suppress sexuality with shame has worked so well). So, while we're busy scoffing at the idea that the things we buy are addictive, the people selling them to us will be spending millions to find ways to make them even more so.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/blog/7-creepy-ways-corporations-are-turning-you-into-addict

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