The Dopamine Quarantine


Seinfeld... | Seinfeld quotes, Funny sitcoms, SeinfeldCOVID 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 Technology
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  1. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat

    Yes – should be shouted from the rooftops! Social media was designed to work exactly as you describe and its mind-numbing. We are programming children the same way. The book Don’t be Evil by Rana Foroohar is excellent and tells how social media was created to make us the product. I weaned off of Drudge and feel better for it. I read the news in the morning or while I am getting cleaned up and turn everything off. My phone is used for work. I have a few email stories I like, but read on the computer, not phone and very limited ads.

    Getting outdoors first thing clears the head. This morning a deer couple wandered the back yard. The birds are singing and the air is fresh. This is the best medicine. 

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  2. Blondie Thatcher

    We had our monthly retirees lunch yesterday. Nobody checked their phones (didn’t have time) and the conversation was endless. It was wonderful. I had offered to host it at my house but one of the girls said let’s go out. She was right. We need to do that as much as we can while we can. 

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  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    I do those things–walking outside 5X per week, and going to the gym 3X per week. With this cold weather (46! in the mornings), I haven’t seen the usual folks on my walks; maybe they’re walking later. But it’s called keeping your sanity, and a cold, crisp morning is just what the doctor ordered. 

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  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Our inside dining is closed.  Our gyms are all closed.  So those two activities are not available in my state.  Restaurants are going out of business in droves.  I am not on social media, except for Ricochet.  I was forced into retirement, so no work (from January through the end of August, I went to my work every single day).  I have been spending more time on my personal blog, and have been getting multiple new followers every week ( welcomes Rico followers!).  I try to get out when it’s not raining, and Ray and I have had a nice walk around part of Silver Lake near our house.  Here are some posts that got good responses.

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  5. MISTER BITCOIN Inactive

    I love the Seinfeld picture.

    Recently, I noticed that my local 7 eleven has been running out of cigarettes like Camel Crush.

    I asked the cashier, people are buying more cigarettes because of lockdown?  

    She said Yes


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