Our General Election is upon us, accompanied by political theatre of the absurd in France and the US. The journalists are on 24/7 alert, the forecasters primed for their Olympiad.

And social media continues to do its thing. Endless bombardment, compromising our attention span, growing our obsession with instant gratification, and, right now, sowing division and spreading outrage. The result for those on the receiving end is a dopamine surge likened to a nose full of cocaine.

In its benign form, this neurotransmitter, dubbed the ‘Kim Kardashian of molecules’, drives the brain’s reward system, triggered by pleasurable sensations, helping control key bodily functions.

But as the architects of major platforms know, rather than simply providing a feelgood hit, dopamine motivates us to seek pleasure. Behavioural addition has soared this century. Craving attention, distraction and validation, by scrolling and swiping, have joined substance addiction as societal woes.

Ironically, data indicate that, with more stimuli on offer, we are less happy. Global depression rates have risen significantly over the past 30 years.

And too much dopamine in the system can lead to difficulty in controlling impulses. Described as limbic hijack, the emotional brain overwhelms its rational counterpart, particularly the pre-frontal cortex where the brain deals with planning and problem-solving, and which is important for personality development.

This dilemma surfaces in best-selling storyteller Manda Scott’s new novel, Any Human Power. Part political thriller, part map to a future that we would be proud to pass on, the book challenges, captivates and entertains on many levels.

No spoilers but in an online interview to promote the opus, Scott asserted, with a better world in mind, that: “We need to move from a dopamine culture to a serotonin culture”, characterised by her as “from trauma to initiation”.

Clearly, we cannot put the genie back in the bottle at a macro level but, as individuals with personal agency, we can be aware and make or suggest changes to counter the destructive effects of going with the lava flow.

Crossover books like Any Human Power, plus one of my favourites, The Social Animal by David Brooks, are fantastic vehicles for landing scientific evidence in the context of imagined but accessible human lives.

As for serotonin, it is another of the over 100 neurotransmitters in the nervous system, and, like dopamine, it plays an important role in the brain by influencing mood. Where it scores over dopamine is in its potential to stave off depression and help promote more constructive social interactions. In short, cooperation and affiliation rather than aggression and isolation.

I enjoy pleasure as much as anyone but frankly can find everyday life emotionally draining. And I’m certainly not a digital native. I mistakenly set off for a day in the city a week or so ago without my phone. It was quietly charging at home. What happened? A few minor inconveniences but, in truth, nothing of note. I was undoubtedly more stressed about this than I needed to be. It taught my addiction a lesson.

So, to hell with dopamine loading. With more exercise, more daylight, more reflection, more face-to-face connection, more relationship building and yes and more fibre, I shall vote for serotonin over its shouty colleague.

Our culture needs re-balancing. Let’s see if the politicians agree.