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Image courtesy of memeticians.com

Image courtesy of memeticians.com

Whether victims of Blackberry addiction, iPhone obsession, or a Facebook mobile twitch, we all know someone who can’t seem to put down their cell/iPhone/PDA/whatever it is. Some accept this behavior as part of Gen-Y technophile culture, but not every offender falls into the Generation Y demographic.

Some feel the aforementioned behavior suggests an underlying anxiety which may or may not be triggered by certain social situations. Some say those tethered to their mobile, Internet-enabled devices are simply doing so out of habit, and others simply deem them rude. In any case, it is hard to deny we have a problem. We’ve all become so attached to our technology, we find it difficult to let go, even in the midst of human-to-human contact, even in the presence of someone we love.

Now scientists are suggesting there may be more to our compulsion to stay connected than meets the eye. Turns out dopamine, the natural chemical found in human brains often referenced to explain the rush of energy and goal-oriented behavior we experience when in love, plays a large role in our constant drive to seek and share information, and activities like Google searching, texting, twittering, and updating our Facebook status fire up the same reward center in the brain activated when we fall in love.

More on dopamine

Image courtesy of scienceblogs.com

Image courtesy of scienceblogs.com

Dopamine itself is responsible for reward-seeking behaviors: it stimulates the pleasure centers in the brain and causes us to continually seek behaviors that provide that pleasure. From activities like eating that the brain classifies as necessary for human survival to abstract activities like information seeking (i.e. Google searching) and superfluous ones like social networking, the spectrum of behaviors humans engage in to chase the proverbial high is wide. Some behaviors are necessary, some are exciting, and some are dangerous (or annoying) – but when the pleasure center in the brain classifies them as ‘equal,’ it becomes important for us to help our brain draw the line.

For more on the way our brains are hardwired to search and share and how chemicals affect our behavior, check out “Seeking,” an amazing article on Slate.com that delves deep into the subject.

What do you think? Do you find your Internet use bordering on compulsive? Are there any other behaviors you engage in you feel cause problems in your daily life? Are all those people tied to their iPhones a victim of circumstance or just plain rude? Tell us your thoughts below!


3 thoughts on “The (Not So) Romantic Side of Search
  1. ferris says:

    That explains my compulsive habit of pressing the “search button” maybe 30 times/day? I need to talk to my therapist about this ASAP!

  2. Jesse says:

    I check email waaay too often. I missed study groups in college because I didn’t check my email enough…then I over compensated and now its out of control.

  3. Joe says:

    So when I got home from work yesterday, I watched TV, used my computer and played with my iPhone until i passed out on the couch at 11:30pm. I do agree that it is an addiction. However, the other evening I was out on a date and the girl I was with never checked her phone once! I thought that was very attractive.. for certain my dopamine levels were skyrocketing!

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