The Addiction Algorithm

“Begin each prayer with simple thanks.” - Jeff Einstein

ian bremmer art

Our lives in the digital 21st century are ruled by tens of thousands of digital 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 pursue pleasure and avoid pain.
  • 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.
  • There are two kinds of ritual: meaningful (those that contribute to and promote our physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing), and self-serving (those that contribute to and promote our obsessions and addictions).
  • Over the past two generations, the institutions (family, meaningful labor, education and organized religion) that once championed meaningful ritual, moderation and common sense in our lives have been obliterated, marginalized or co-opted by a deliberate, corporatist onslaught of digital narcotics.
  • We all became hopelessly addicted to an endless supply of digital narcotics as the meaningful rituals in our lives were replaced by the rituals of our digital obsessions and addictions. By the early 21st century, addiction became the default social condition, the rule rather than the exception.

We now live in a Brave New Digital World, a society ruled and controlled by a state-sanctioned meta-addicti0n to all things media and all things digital. Like the citizens of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, we are undone in the digital 21st century less by the things we fear, and more by the things we love and invite into our homes and lives. In the end, our meta-addiction to all things media and all things digital steals our time and money and freedom — just like any other addiction to any other narcotic…

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