Missing out on a lot of information, back in our tribal days, was a great threat for us humans. Not only that you’ll be prone to more danger, but you will also have a hard time foraging food. A sound reason why humans valued information so much. And having their lack of isn’t.
In this day and age, we have come to coin this term as FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out. But it’s not about fending from predators (we had surpassed that age, just imagine!) or foraging for food anymore. It now has a lot to do with our digital dilemma – mankind’s helplessly eavesdropping on the internet.
Because almost every piece of information is now with the click of our fingers, it’s so easy for us to check out anything. Either be it about celebrities or how molecular atoms split, we can access them online.
We scroll and scroll for more, but it’s endless and we end up stuck.
But with the advances in technology and the availability of a seemingly endless pool of information we got in our hands, should we still be wary of missing out?
Why can’t so many people stop scrolling on the internet?
What makes Social Media Addicting?
Social media can be addicting. If you’re like me, and many other people, you’ve probably found yourself constantly scrolling through your socials and feeling a great sense of regret afterward. Not only it’s a time vampire, but we also end up craving for some validations online.
But why is it?
What makes social media so addicting?
We can all blame it on Dopamine.
Dopamine is a hormone that rewards our brain when we do something good. It promotes a positive feeling of satisfaction and pleasure, thus – together with several others – Dopamine is also known as a ‘happy hormone’. Some of the activities where it gets triggered are when we eat, have sex, and exercise.
Similarly, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are specially engineered to trigger these hormones. Here’s what happens:
- Having access to an endless pool of information somehow pleases your FOMO
- Gaining likes, shares, comments, and other virtual validations boost your ego
- Watching cats and baby videos make you happy
Like coffee-dependent people, Dopamine is your caffeine boost. If you’re lactose intolerant or detest the bitter taste of coffee, you probably don’t drink coffee at all, so this analogy is vague. But it varies from person to person. Someone who’s coffee dependent may feel nausea if she misses her morning coffee causing relapse, going back to the usual again.
Dopamine acts similarly, explaining the “itch” you get to check on your socials. No matter how much you want not to, you always find yourself mindlessly scrolling again.
The fact that you’re reading this tells me that you want to do something about it. From experience, I could say I have been on the worst side of the spectrum. There were days when I didn’t leave my bed, mindlessly scrolling on my phone. I had tried so many ways to stop it but nothing worked like Dopamine Detoxing.
Try Dopamine Detoxing
Constant exposure to the substance/ experience (social media) increases your dependency. The more time you spend on your socials, the more dependent and addicted your brain gets to associate high rewards and motivation with it.
Dopamine detoxing is the act of cutting this dependency by taking a break for an extensive period of time. This method doesn’t just particularly apply to social media in general, but to other addictive dopamine-boosting experiences as well such as smoking and alcohol consumption. It’s like fasting but not with food.
The period of time to take depends on your level of dependency. But the truth is, we can’t quantify this behavior. If you want to take it seriously, the best way you could do is to push for your limit.
Here’s an example:
|3 day||7 days||12 days|
According to the Recovery Research Institute, it can take 14 months of moderation for your dopamine level to get back to its normal state. It means, after detox, you may experience the urge to get back at it again. But it won’t be that “itchy” anymore.
That is why some are Dopamine Detoxing constantly – only checking social media when needed.
After the Netflix film The Social Dilemma got released, many had again questioned their purpose in owning an account online.
But let’s face it, some people rely their bread and butter on these platforms. As a fresh writer, no one will notice me if I don’t get social online. It’s where I find my clients.
So if you’re like me, our goal is to find moderation. Nothing good comes from consuming too much of anything.
How Does Dopamine Detoxing Work
To mitigate the transmission of dopamine associated with social media, you have to halt the use of it ruthlessly for an extensive period of time.
It may take a few months of abstinence to completely get rid of the “itch”, but once completed, it can change your life. Numerous study proves that less screen time significantly lowers a person’s cortisol level or stress hormones. This isn’t a surprising finding. When we use our devices, we don’t move much except a few fingers. This sedentary lifestyle causes mood swings, anxiety, and sometimes depression.
To start your detoxing journey, here are a few tips to help you:
- First, delete all social media apps from your phone. The less access you have to them, the less tempted you’ll do it. You can always reinstall them if you’re done.
- Create a checklist on paper to track your progress.
- Fill your schedule with fruitful activities. You won’t be craving online interactions if you’re busy and having fun.
- Be more mindful of your surrounding and enjoy the people
closer to you.
- Be present. You can meditate to focus and remind yourself of your goal.
The Joy of Missing Out
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is normal, it’s a survival mechanism and will always be vital to our existence. But with all the nonsense floating on the internet right now, instead of doing good, we suffer from information overload.
Our fear of missing out generates from our fear of getting caught off guard by predators and other threats. It should be for our advantage. But with excessive information causing us anxiety, depression, and physical illnesses; missing out isn’t that bad at all. We must know which and how much information to consume.
The antidote for the mental fatigue caused by FOMO is JOMO or the joy of missing out. It is the pleasure of enjoying your time, present and unbothered, without having to dread what people are up to on-screen.