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The Addiction Algorithm
Welcome To The Great Age Of Addiction
Our lives in the digital 21st century are ruled by tens of thousands of algorithms. But here’s the one that matters most:
Chemical destiny minus meaningful ritual = addiction.
Here’s how it works, step by step:
We are wired for addiction by virtue of the simple fact that our brains are chemically motivated to avoid pain and pursue pleasure
All of our time is spent in relationships with various people and things
The rituals we build around each of the relationships in our lives dictate how, where, and with whom we spend almost all of our time and money, and how, where, and with whom we invest our faith
There are two kinds of ritual: meaningful (those that contribute to and promote our spiritual, social, emotional, and physical well-being), and mindless (those that contribute to and promote our obsessions and addictions)
Meaningful rituals moderate our behavior as critical defenders of the quality of life. They protect us as individuals. They protect our families. They protect our communities. Mindless rituals encourage excessive behavior that destroys individuals, families, and communities alike.
We become addicts when we replace our protective meaningful rituals with destructive mindless rituals associated with narcotic behaviors and drugs that help us cope with spiritual, social, emotional, and/or physical trauma and pain. The quid pro quo is both obvious and immensely profitable: better the addiction than the pain.
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Over the past two generations, critical meaningful rituals like the family dinner table and the Sabbath day of rest were all but eliminated, replaced by the mindless rituals of our obsessions with and addictions to an endless institutional tsunami of digital narcotics and psychoactive pharmaceuticals.
By the early 21st century, with the meteoric rise of a state-sponsored meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital, addiction became the default social condition, the rule rather than the exception. The polytheistic narcissism of identity politics replaced traditional religion.
We stopped praying with family and friends for harmony and equality and peace in churches and mosques and synagogues and started preaching climate change, anti-racism, gender equity, and endless war to strangers at the pagan alters of Google and Netflix and Facebook and TikTok. We replaced the protective meaningful rituals of faith, family, and community with the mindless rituals of institutional nihilism for profit.
Again, chemical destiny minus meaningful ritual = addiction. This is why we now live in what I call the Great Age of Addiction.