As I pointed out yesterday, I didn’t have a lot of personal sturm und drang during the “lockdown”. Life changed, of course – but I don’t think I especially did.
I was listening to an NPR science show a few weeks back. It discussed new discoveries about the interconnectedness of pleasure and pain – literal pleasure and pain,, in this case, and their role in addiction.
Doing something pleasurable triggers a jolt of dopamine – which is pleasant, and makes you happy. Doesn’t matter what the pleasure impulse is – a small victory, a shot of bourbon, sex, a good TV show, it all triggers dopamine. Of course, there’s an inner pendulum of sorts – as the body experiences pleasure, it pushes back, so the pleasure is followed by nearly equal, nearly opposite pain. Sugar is followed by crash; Big victory is followed by “so, what’s next?”.
One of the article’s many points was that humans have more stimuli for dopamine now than ever before; 24/7 entertainment, smart phones, porn on demand, drugs from caffeine to Fentanyl and everything in between. Humans aren’t built for all the pleasure modern times presents them; eveolutionariliy, everyone in the world is a virtual Norwegian Bachelor Farmer, expecting an aescetic life.
And this past 19 months have stripped away a lot of the stimulation people used to get – and made some of the more transient ones, video games and cell phones and the like – old hat. Buzzes get old; to quote the great psychiatrist Axl Rose, “I used to do a little but a little didn’t do it, so a little got more and more”.
And “creatives”, I think, are much more addicted to more dopamine, more need for stimulus and variation, than most.
And those are the ones writing the extended laments of the misery of thjis past two years.