I have chosen “Overstimulation in the Modern World” as a topic because I believe that overstimulation causes more problems than most people realize, and to discuss it is now as important as ever.
There are numerous industries that use overstimulation to attract consumers, and the principle of overstimulation can explain why they manage to do it successfully. Overstimulation occurs when certain behaviors or objects cause chemical rewards, such as dopamine, to flood into the brains’ pleasure centers. Living in a civilized society, people have endless supplies of engrossing entertainment. The problem with these is that most stimuli are perceived and consumed in such exaggerated forms that people’s brains become unable to get satisfaction or even function properly when they do something less entertaining. As a result, individuals start doing the things that overstimulate their brains regularly to get more or at least the same amount of pleasure, and these behaviors become addictive. Some examples of these supernormal stimuli include junk food, pornography, TV, video games, and the Internet.
There is a number of negative consequences of overstimulation. First, it makes attention spans shorter because people are constantly looking for something more entertaining to do. As a result, the majority of young people nowadays have serious difficulties focusing. Second, overstimulation is a major factor contributing to anxiety and often leading to depression. One of the causes linked to these issues is the overuse of electronic media. Finally, always looking for new and stronger stimuli creates a feeling of restlessness and discomfort.
In its current form, this problem has existed for about 20 years and has grown with the development of the Internet and different technologies.
While this overload is affecting both physical and mental health, no durable solutions have been put into action by any of the major social institutions. There is research done on the issue, and many people try to raise awareness about it in various articles and YouTube videos. However, there have been no changes in the educational system, which can be very influential in improving the situation.
Most solutions focus on dealing with the consequences and not with the cause of the problem. Addictions are considered to be a much more serious problem than overstimulation, which causes most of them. Therefore, people mostly solve addiction problems; that is why those solutions are not always effective and cause more people to fall into this endless circle, constantly searching for instant gratification.
The best solution lies in educating young people about the damage caused by exposing themselves to supernormal stimuli on a regular basis. For example, instead of criticizing students for not paying attention in the classroom, teachers can spend more time explaining to them how their minds work and how they can benefit from avoiding too much entertainment.
Some people may disagree with me, claiming that these stimuli are not as damaging as I describe them to be. The objections to my point of view may include the fact that avoiding sensory overload would be associated with restricting oneself in many ways, which is often considered to be unpleasant and unhealthy. Someone might also claim that educating young people about the dangers of overstimulation would not change anything, as they would just see those discussions as something they have to do within their school program. I believe, however, that truly engaging them in the discussions of their own daily experiences is bound to have a positive effect, first in more minor, insignificant activities and then in more important and regular ones.
Ayano, G. (2016). Dopamine: Receptors, functions, synthesis, pathways, locations and mental disorders: Review of literatures. Journal of Mental Disorders and Treatment, 2(2).
Johns Hopkins University. (2021). Our brains are maladapted to the modern world we live in.
Robson, G. J. (2016). The threat of comprehensive overstimulation in modern societies. Ethics and Information Technology, 19(1), 69-80.
Watson, P., Pearson, D., Wiers, R. W., & Le Pelley, M. E. (2019). Prioritizing pleasure and pain: Attentional capture by reward-related and punishment-related stimuli. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 26, 107-113.