I spend all day on the internet because I get paid to write about it. Can trying TikTok’s “dopamine detox” trend save my exhausted brain?

Dopamine detoxifiers

Dopamine detox often involves getting rid of screens.(L) Screenshot/TikTok – psychadvice, (R) Screenshot/TikTok – rayjason.fit

  • The “dopamine detox” wellness fad has been around for years, but lately it has taken hold on TikTok.

  • It involves minimizing, if not completely ceasing, the use of telephones, TVs and other devices.

  • As an Internet reporter, I tried detox. Amazingly, it wasn’t very difficult and I could have gone on longer.

Screens have become so pervasive that many people now cannot bear to have a meal or take a train without looking at something or looking at one. Most of us start and end our days endlessly scrolling through digital mud or gleefully scrolling through happiness-creating memes.

We have become socially and emotionally dependent on screens.

The “dopamine detox,” a wellness trend that has recently gained traction on TikTok, offers a possible solution. The idea is to try and get dopamine, or the natural brain chemical that makes you feel good, from anywhere other than your smartphone or TV. Most participants stop using social media, eat their meals in silence, and don’t check their phones for at least an hour after waking up. Some TikTokers are detoxing beyond tech, like swapping soda for water.

“You’re miserable because you’re constantly happy, now it’s normal to drown in dopamine,” TikToker @rayjason.fit says in her viral trend video. “When you start embracing silence, solitude and space to think, boring things become absolutely beautiful.”

TikTokers who have tried the trend generally speak positively of it. They said the detox cleared their brain fog and helped them enjoy life again. Perhaps the most surprising observation I’ve seen was from a participant who said that by day five of detox he felt “like a kid again” as if by not using technology, someone could access a feeling they haven’t had in decades. .

I wanted to try detox for myself. As someone who is paid to write about internet culture and therefore spends hours each day thinking about trends, influencers, and social media drama, I was curious to see if a dopamine detox could cleanse my exhausted brain. I also wanted to know if it would be possible for me to unplug, considering I have an incentive to be plugged in five days a week.

Over a recent three-day weekend, I underwent a drastic detox: I committed to using only 10 minutes of social media a day and no phones unless I needed them for texting or logistical planning.

When I finished my dopamine detox on Monday night, I was disappointed that I hadn’t experienced major seismic changes. But I could see how impactful the trend could be if I followed it longer. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from my mini screen diet.

The dopamine detox wasn’t too difficult especially since I kept a busy schedule

The internet is so deeply woven into my life that I thought it would be impossible to fight the Pavlovian urge to browse apps.

But, surprisingly, it wasn’t that difficult because I filled my schedule with other real-world engaging stuff. I relaxed in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park and watched picnickers and gymnasts get apple-red sunburns. I crossed the Williamsburg Bridge at sunset and ate bagels on my balcony, while also enjoying the symphony of traffic on the street below. I traveled to New Jersey to see a friend.

There were several moments where I longed to open the phone and had to actively resist the urge. But it was worth it: The more I turned my attention to my surroundings IRL, the more sounds and sights I noticed, and the more I relaxed into the natural chaos of New York City.

To detox properly, you need to try to rival other stimuli for your arousal from the phone or TV. Otherwise you may find yourself nervous, bored and restless. I felt like I was rewiring my dopaminergic centers more while doing something else.

Overall, the detox definitely had positive results

The positive effects of detox became evident when I traveled to rural New Jersey. The combination of being away from the internet and being out in the wilderness has afforded me a real chance to breathe. I felt like a tourist again when I returned to the city on Monday: the streets seemed fuller and more colorful. That brain itch to keep constantly checking Instagram or texting friends had all but dissipated!

I read Emma Cline’s novel ‘The Guest’ over the weekend which was an interesting parallel to the experience. (The protagonist wanders aimlessly around Long Island with a broken phone and her sense of reality is warped by alcohol and painkillers.) My experience was much more positive than hers, but there was a similar feeling of being adrift. without an anchor.

A key contextualizing force in my life The internet, social media, current affairs were starting to dissolve.

Sadly, when I returned to work Tuesday morning, it was as if the detox never happened. The early plunge into social media reignited both haste and digital fatigue. Perhaps the effects of the experiment would have been more effective if I had extended it for a week or a month. However, it was A effect on my daily life. I’m committed to setting firmer boundaries, like not using my phone at the start and end of the day, and creating screen-free zones during mealtimes.

Toward the end of my detox, I began to wonder how it would be possible to continue working as an internet culture reporter if I was unplugged. I would need to enter the real world to find stories related to technology and social media. I would have to call my boss to talk about my presentations for the day and write articles on a typewriter or handwrite them on paper. It would be arduous and absurd.

(Kieran’s editor’s note: We recognize the tacky paradoxes of conducting this experiment as Kieran is a talented Internet reporter. I’m confident that cutting social media time, if he needs it, won’t make him any less of a sharp and stealthy writer. Still, approaching this work with old-school journalistic rigor could be an interesting experiment down the line.)

As with everything, moderation is key. Some models of dopamine detoxification are militantly restrictive and, ironically, can create more anxiety about being perfect, as if humans were machines that can be optimized. Plus, life online is different for everyone, and there are definitely healthy ways to use screens without falling into Doomscroll despair. One thing I’ve noticed after spending so much time offline is that I’ve actually found it easier to come up with story ideas about internet culture.

Taking a break allowed me to see the technology landscape with fresh eyes. Ironically, I’d probably do my job better if I was online less.

Read the original Insider article

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