Are we a generation addicted to adrenaline?

I’ve found that many TV shows lately get my heart rate up and leave me on the edge of my seat wanting closure: reality TV, reality cooking competitions, classic TV dramas, and even sitcoms have gotten in on this on this phenomenon.

It’s a known fact that we’re all addicted to our phones and studies have shown that getting an email or a text heightens our adrenaline functions, exciting us. It’s why so many people experience false positives for messages or “phantom buzzing” in their pocket because their body is so used to the sensation that it wants to continue the excitement even when it isn’t there.

All this leads me to ask myself a question: Are we over-doing it on the high drama and suspense in order to feed our senses more?

TV shows are having to go further and further to keep the attention of its viewers. And when one doesn’t deliver, we hem and haw in disappointment. For example, this last season *semi-spoiler alert* of House of Cards was not as dramatic as the first two (perhaps we can discuss the moral implications of this show on another post). Because of this, I didn’t think it was as good. Reading reviews of the season in an effort to validate my thoughts, critics have agreed, though pointed out a lift in intelligent dialogue. I, admittedly, missed this quality because I was so focused on how Frank Underwood was unable to be as violently underhanded due to his new role as President. What a shame for me to miss quality dialogue. It’s what I usually love most in a TV show and a huge reason The West Wing is one of my all-time favorites.

Then we have Netflix, Hulu and our DVRs which allow us the ultimate satisfaction: “just one more.” How many times have you said that to yourself when you come to the end of a cliffhanger episode and you HAVE to find out what happens? We are rewarding our binge behavior and the rush of the unknown. I’m as guilty as anyone at this particular indulgence.

Extreme sports are more popular than ever. Folks love the rush and the feeling they get before, during and after. And in the same vein, I’ve heard that you can become addicted to getting tattoos for the rush of the experience (I don’t have any so I can’t speak to this). Furthermore, someone recently told me she leaves everything to the last minute — not because she’s lazy, but because she enjoys the thrill of getting it done with seconds to spare.

The thrill of the adventure, the pain and the deadline drive us … who isn’t guilty of that? (Heck as I was writing my book, my deadline was looming and it certainly got my creative juices and adrenaline going).

But my more practical side of my brain thinks this can’t be good for us. Has there ever been a generation so full of this naturally occurring drug equivalent? I don’t know. But I bet with our access to technology that simply aids in this, it’s a no. We have access to our phones, the Internet, adventure sports … the sky is literally the limit. I can’t go anywhere or do anything without getting some sort of emotional rush.

Perhaps it’s a call for me to pray about this for the remainder of this Lenten season and try to find ways to calm down and just be with God. St. Paul writes in Romans 12:2— “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

So let us not conform to the culture of adrenaline and spend time reflecting and discerning the will of the Lord.

Do you thrive on adrenaline or do you manage to not live life so on the edge?