America, Dopamine, Nigeria & Yahoo Boys

Why Is America The Greatest Country In The World?

Because it knows how to reward dopamine.

There’s a common misconception dopamine is released in the brain as a result of engaging in pleasurable activities like sex, eating a nice meal, having a drink etc.

But hold on to that thought for a second.

In which other country would an immigrant from Mexico, Italy, India or somewhere in Africa move to, start a business or get a job, see five of their kids through college and then one of them goes on to build a Silicon Valley startup worth $ 7 billion.

I don’t know whose family history this is exactly, but if you drew a line across the stories of immigrants, and even people of colour (despite the depths of institutional racism reported across the country), America rewards dopamine.

America rewards hardworking people.

Which takes us back to the third sentence in this post.

The misconception surrounding dopamine.

We commonly believe dopamine is only attributed to activities that can be termed as natty and time-wasting like Netflix & gaming.

But where else can a gamer (regarded as deadbeat in other cultures) go on to become a reality star, stack bundles of cash and even build a business off such natty behaviour?

Yet another reward for dopamine.

But this isn’t even the misconception of dopamine.

The bigger misconception is we believe dopamine only comes as an end product. We don’t even know dopamine is also tied to the process.

The process of building a business and racking small wins like your first order, your 10th sale, your 50th customer and then onto bigger things.

Dopamine hits like waking up everyday to Nike adverts and seeing these NBA players in the flesh and knowing that if you could put in work, chances are you could make it.

Dopamine hits like seeing Serena Williams on TV and being able to relate to her because her cousin was your classmate in high school.

Dopamine hits like walking down the Hollywood Boulevard and bumping into your favourite actor.

That kind of dopamine hit.

The one that assures you that everything is possible if you keep striving.

There’s a win around the corner.

Success isn’t far away.

This week there was another conversation again concerning the Yahoo menace in Nigeria.

I recall a friend sharing this story on Twitter:

“I just had one of the most unnerving  experience of my life.

So this woman on my street called me to help her to talk her child that’s been moving with Yahoo boys and apparently started doing it too, the woman started the conversation by saying I’m an example of someone the boy should emulate and see as a mentor, seeing how I’m nicely dressed going to work everyday and I how I keep my life off drugs and going about things the right way.

So I told the boy, why old fashioned hard work pays and how there are legit ICT skills he can learn.

The part that blew me away, boy started by saying no disrespect to me but looking good in shirt and tie or being unproblematic doesn’t pay the major bills, that he doesn’t see me driving a car, but bro Tunde who didn’t even finish secondary school but does “G” drives a nice car.

Boy said he can’t waste the next ten years of his life just to become a guy that wear shirt and tie to fly bike to work or wait for office bus.

I tried to tell him that I have responsibilities and buying a car is a luxury I can’t afford right now that there are guys who are like me who can actually “ball” and that I enjoy life in a different way than spending money on call girls and alcohol.

Boy said he got an iTunes gift card of $200 within 2 days of asking and no work can guarantee him that..

At that point I just kept mute and told the mother to pray for him or find someone he respects to talk him out of it.

Kids these days see Yahoo boys as mentors than regular hard working guys because our society worships money and we live in a country that rewards greedy politicians than Doctors, teachers and co.”

This tweet is over 1 year old.

But it still lives in my head.

I remember writing “We need role models in our community. But we don’t just need role models, we need RICH role models with legal means” as a response.

But I don’t just think that’s enough.

Rich role models are great.

But people want to also feel like their efforts matter.

People want to believe their work can bring them success. Not get snuffed out by a system that rewards the guy who can break the law and get away with it.

In this fast paced Indomie world we live in today where instant gratification reigns supreme, we also need a system that rewards dopamine.

But not dopamine as we know it.

But as Americans & American immigrants know it.

I have a feeling this is why comedy, skit making & social media influencing are on the high nowadays.

With the exposure, monies, sponsorship & endorsement deals, it’s the closest thing to a reward system.


A dopamine reward system.

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

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