Crafting a text is like painting a picture. You need a balance: of color (Do you have good word choice?), of tone (How angry does that period make you look?) and of aesthetic appeal (Is this message interesting?).
Texting has come a long way from the days of weird shorthand. We aren’t trying to be hip or cool by squeezing in lazee abbrevs in 4 evrytin.
Texting in complete, creative, complex sentences has never been more popular. No longer do we shorten “I love you” to 143. I love you is I love you. Back in the early 2000s, people probably thought full words would become obsolete.
We should feel grateful for how far we’ve come.
It only makes sense, then, that something we put so much real energy into has altered our brain chemistry and made us hooked. The popularity of texting has truly affected the dopamine in our brains and caused us to become biochemically addicted.
Previous research has suggested that dopamine controls the pleasure-seeking systems in the brain, but new research is emerging to suggest that dopamine also causes us to seek, want and desire. It controls our motivation, general level of arousal and go-getter, goal-oriented behavior.
This goes deeper than just our desire for tangible items, like food or sex. We already know that one of the biggest releases of dopamine is during orgasm; the dopamine released during sex comes from both the pleasure-center and the seeking center of our brains.
When you have sex, your dopamine levels increase and the pleasure-center of your brain becomes activated, which causes the seeking-center of your brain to desire climax.
Once the orgasm reward is achieved, more dopamine is released and you’re left feeling satisfied. Maybe. If he was good.
But dopamine makes us seek abstract things too, like ideas, connection and information. And now, in the age of technology, we don’t have to go through a whole episode of having sex to fulfill that desire to seek a grand finale. Instead, we have an immediate outlet to quickly fulfill it: the text.
If you want to ask someone a question, you send a text and receive an answer instantly. If you want to feel connected to someone, you send a text and feel connected instantly.
Your desire to seek gets fulfilled each time you send a text message, and you get caught in a dopamine loop. And getting that reward — receiving a response, that is — for seeking makes you want to seek more.
Sometimes, even if you get the reward, the dopamine loop forces you to keep seeking. Ever wonder why fights over text always seem so long and drawn out? It’s probably because the desire to keep seeking that passion controls your ability to stop the conversation.
Unpredictability also stimulates the dopamine in our brains. When something happens that we didn’t expect, we get a boost of dopamine.
Most of us know we will receive text messages throughout the day, but you don’t exactly know when or who it’ll be from, right? It’s unpredictable. It’s exciting. It increases our dopamine, and we become addicted.
This is the same relationship we have with the “typing awareness indicator” — or, in other words, the bubble with the three dots that pops up when someone is in the process of typing to you.
This indicator heightens our anxiety. It makes us think that our phones are withholding something from us, and we watch in horror as the bubble pops up, slips away and pops back up again. And, similarly, we know the other party in our conversation is aware of how long it takes us to construct a response because they, too, see us typing.
It’s an exhausting, emotional roller coaster filled with apprehension, sending our dopamine levels climbing and falling with each passing second. But we love it, and it increases our desire to feed into the dopamine loop.
When we have a cue that a reward is coming, our dopamine spikes again. A vibration or a ringtone cue signifies that a text message — the reward! — is here. And because texts are usually short, they don’t fully satisfy us; they leave us craving more information. Back on the dopamine loop we go.
So, not only does dopamine drive our desire to have sex and seek climax, but it also drives our desire to engage in a texting conversation and receive a text message.
Now you can tell your inadequate boyfriend who hasn’t made you orgasm yet that he can reward you in other ways: by answering your texts!
And if he doesn’t even do that, then, well, you should dump him. You clearly get nothing out of this relationship.