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COVID restrictions have pushed us into getting our social fix through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And boy do they also incentivize some bad behavior.
The less disciplined among us have had those endless phone-checking days. Or, worse, you need to do something else but find yourself glued to the computer screen, cycling between tabs, opening and closing social media sites as you desperately try to get away. And everybody knows that, after months at home, the pre-pandemic numbers on our online habits don’t even scratch the surface.
“What do you really think is going to happen?” I sometimes ask myself after spending more time than I’d like to admit online. Will there be some pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-flagged adverts on Instagram? No—just the cheap thrill of a dopamine hit at minor validation from a group of people I’m loosely acquainted with. You’re not going to miss any major life events from people you last spoke to 10 years ago—and if you do, will you really care? There will be no key to life’s mysteries in a college classmate’s gratuitously self-reflective status update. There’s only the meaningless affirmation that somebody “liked” your thoughtless content.
For many of us, the vicious cycle of social media addiction may have hit harder than the pandemic itself. The loop of a remote daily life leaves the portal to the validation zone half-open at all times. I can’t turn off my phone or my router because my job wants me “online”, but to be “online”, you unfortunately have to be online.
As such, I am proposing a dopamine quarantine. It requires saying “no” to the lockdown agenda. Stop by the gym and validate yourself with the calories burned. Go to a cabin in the woods, or a foreign country where you won’t have cheap cell service (I hear Egypt is great this time of year). Turn your devices off when you go to sleep and enjoy the next morning without them. Embrace print media. Create a situation where it would be a drag to get online. And apps with no constructive purpose on your phone? Just say no!
This profound medical advice may come off as pedestrian to some, but for those who’ve had just about every meeting place taken away from us, it takes a little push to get back to enjoying real life instead of coasting on the sugar high of those sweet, sweet likes and retweets. So let’s quarantine the real virus—dopamine addiction—and let us get back to reality. (After I check the likes on this post, of course.)Published in