The Pleasure Paradox

How much is too much pleasure?

Have you ever been scrolling down Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or VSCO just to realize you’ve been captured by your screen and you’ve been oblivious to what was happening around you? I guarantee that you have because social media really isn’t that interesting. We overload the pleasure center of our brains on a daily basis. More often than not this has a numbing effect on our deepest emotions.  Deep down we know this. Our instantly gratifying world feeds into our most subconscious desires without warning. Unfortunately, most of us lack the self-awareness to escape our negative thought patterns. I’ve certainly been victim to this. Despite coming a long way since being attached to my iPhone as though it were the charging cable to my life, I still have room for improvement. News flash, so do you. If you’d like to check out my journey with social media click here. However, I’d like to address a more common issue with this post.

A study out of the University of Houston researching how Facebook affects our mental health showed that more time spent on the site increased rates of depression among all participants. The reason for this is mainly due to the social comparison aspect of Facebook (and basically every other media platform which enables you to post pictures, videos and share messages publicly). Although this may not seem so surprising, the study also found that the direction of the social comparison was irrelevant. This means that whether or not the participants were looking “down” on other people’s posts or looking “up” they felt more depressed either way. (Check out the study here.) This information may seem surprising. It may not. I’ve certainly involuntarily compared myself to everyone I’ve seen on the Internet. It’s built in to who we are and there isn’t much we can do besides limit our screen time.

Everyone is different, not everyone finds pleasure in the same activities. However, due to the ever-expanding nature of the Internet there is literally something for everyone within it. No matter how strange, there is no direct censorship on the Internet. Thus making it the perfect place for anyone to find other people like them. As boring as it may sound, you don’t need to be around more people like you. Among the thousands of things that make us happy as human beings, our relationships are at the top of that list, whether you believe that to be the case or not. Find pleasure in the relationships you have right now. The best relationships are not fostered through a screen. They are found during face-to-face communication. Go out and get some face-to-face.  Find pleasure in activities that do not give you an immediate sense of gratification such as junk foods, mindless screen time, video games, Netflix, etc. Go for a walk, read a book, write down your thoughts, have a cold shower. Indulge in the things that pay off in the long term.

Right now is a very short period of time in comparison to the rest of your life. Make it the best it could possibly be right now, without throwing away the rest.

CamLam

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