The societal impact of our collective addictions

Andrea T. Edwards, CSP
6 min readMar 9


It’s rare for me to watch a video which lands in a deep and powerful way. When a video does, it’s because it’s tying together many threads and tackling the really big and complex issues we face as a human collective. In this case, it’s addictions, both substance and behavioural, and how it’s diminishing us all.

The latest from Then & Now is ‘How New Addictions are Destroying Us.’ This is a must watch and if you’re a parent, more so. Please do share with your children if they are old enough to take this message on board.

I wanted to share some of the key take-aways I’ve made from watching this. You can also watch the latest The Know Show with Joe Augustin and Avni Martin to hear our thoughts too.

My take-aways

1. Understanding how our brains work, and how dopamine works, as well as how the digital world impacts us. Know what’s happening, be aware. The information is widely available, from how politicians manipulate it, the media and advertisers too, all the way to Putin waging digital war for more than a decade on social media, and of course, our role in it and acceptance of it. It’s known, it’s destroying us, so let’s understand it and work together to fix it

2. Ask yourself what landscape you want? Natural or digital? The way this is filmed really helps you to see this message

3. Deep self-reflection is required. It’s time to ask ourselves — is this life making me happy? Is it making the world better? What needs to change? How can I change?

4. The case for seeking pleasure over pain is wired into us from an evolutionary perspective, but today, we are seeking more and more pleasure. It’s instinctive to avoid pain, but we are moving into excessiveness and abundance, and too much of anything is bad. We need pain, but we also need to stop being scared of our own thoughts, which is hard when the world is full of noise. We all need to do the work within, and focus on balance

5. Do simple things, like turn off notifications on your phone (it’s a game changer). Delete or ignore emails, unsubscribe from ones you never read. Stop buying into the dopamine rush

6. We MUST all stand up and speak up — it is time for business to change. We’re getting towards the point of frenzy in our world. Noise everywhere. Alerts everywhere. 24x7. Massive consumption that ignores our planetary boundaries. The businesses responsible MUST address this — they need to be ethical, they need to design businesses for good. Algorithms can bring out the best or the worst in us. We need to push them to design their solutions to bring out the best

7. We need to do this for our kids as sociologists are expecting a generational disaster — why do we keep accepting this? Are we so willing to sacrifice our children’s future?

8. Our cultural, political and social guidelines have disappeared and now there are no guide posts. Worse, the market has become our guidelines. We can see that’s not working, right?

9. We regulate addictive substances; however behavioural addiction is rarely regulated. Our kids are the victims of this, adults suffering from trauma too. This week Tik Tok said it would limit time on the platform for under 18s to one hour a day and then turn it off. We need corporate responsibility everywhere — we need to build a world that is focused on life flourishing = all life

10. The essential message I took away and the whole sorry mess this world is in, is it’s time to take back control. We accept everything new, we get excited about its potential and continue to be completely oblivious to its destruction — AI/ChatGPT anyone? Even when we have the wreckage of that destruction all around us, as we do with social media, we still don’t change how we live, think and consume. We don’t rise up and say no more to the corporations responsible. I see this as one of the great challenges for our world to overcome.

So that’s my take-aways — when you watch it, I’d love to know your take-aways? This is one of the BIG issues we must address, because it’s doing us all harm and the market is not addressing it, because right now, the market is incapable of addressing it.



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Andrea T. Edwards, CSP

Inspiring leaders to own their voice with integrity & #UncommonCourage, a committed voice for a better future for all life on earth #SocialLeadership #Humanity