Dopamine Detox? No, Content Cleanse.

Have you heard about Dopamine Detoxes? Similar phrases such as Dopamine Fasting and Digital Detox have been used too. I see these as a bit of a myth. Essentially, this idea has gained popularity through YouTube and Social Media. Influencers, popular people on the socials, ‘quit’ social media for a week, or month. It might also include stopping activities such as listening to music, eating addictive foods, and gaming. Why am I talking about it? Because I believe they are going about it all wrong when it comes to social media. Let’s get into it.

I recently watched a popular YouTuber talk about his Dopamine Detox. He documents his days ditching his favorite dopamine addictions. Social media. Chocolate. Music. Then describes his feelings each day and how he fills the voids. I find his method fascinating and seems to work really well…for him. 

But Ronnie, we thought you were going to debunk this myth. 

Oh yes, right. Sorry, his fascinating video editing skills hypnotized me for a moment. His artistry seems to have worked on many others too as he has reached nearly 5.5 million views on this video alone. He actually goes into detail, in a different vlog, about the $$$ he made last year and credits quite a bit to this video. The detox sounds great, and doable, however I would be curious where those habits are right now for him. Truthfully. And really, for the many others that have done the same. I would imagine some got worse after the detox, most probably stayed the same, and very few stayed the course. Why? Because you are only changing the habit temporarily in hopes that it sticks moving forward. 

Detoxes have been used for a long time with eating habits, and the Mayo Clinic shares, “Detoxification (detox) diets are popular, but there is little evidence that they eliminate toxins from your body.” We can assume if one tried to detox from social media, the need to be there, to share, or to consume will still push the participant to be on social media. The Mayo Clinic goes on to state, “If you do choose to do a detox diet, you may want to use it as a way to jump-start making healthier food choices going forward every day.” If you try to detox from social media, junk food, gaming, and other addictive habits, don’t set yourself up for failure by detoxing for a specific amount of time. Instead, set a goal for where you want to be, and begin ‘cleansing’ your habits. For social media specifically, cleanse your feed.

For me, I have found that boredom, or the need to change what I am doing, leads to me jumping on social media. Even if it is to jump into the app for 2 minutes. You know, similar to taking that shot of whiskey, or a quick drag or two of a cigarette, maybe a bite of that brownie, or a quick level up in your favorite gaming app. You may be asking now, wait…what did you mean by cleansing your habits, Ronnie? 

Let’s start very small here. I will continue to share this concept moving forward in future posts, and hopefully you will join me on the journey, as we grow the cleansing process into our daily ritual. This list is very short. Just one item. This is for a reason.

Change our attention. 

The main reason why I start here is because as a digital marketer by profession, I know all too well that attention is what everyone values. I often teach my students that when doing an analysis on a business and their competitors, the competition is not just those similar in product offerings (e.g. pizza restaurants). On a channel like social media, every person and business on that chosen platform is competing with each other. Why? A social media user is not there to just consume information from a pizza restaurant, they are there to see everything on their feed. This means everyone and everything they follow is competing against each other for their attention. From the family member that posts too much, to the kids school updates, and those darn funny dad joke profiles. All of it.

What does that mean for us? We give it to them. Our attention. We will scroll the feed, sometimes mindlessly. We might stop when see something we have already seen before, which could be minutes to hours of thumb exercises. We will scroll the feed until it says there is nothing new to view, yet we keep scrolling to view profiles we don’t follow. We will scroll until the platform employee pops up in the video and lets us know we have been on the platform for quite some time. We push the limits because we are comfortable and want to escape our personal reality. We don’t want to miss a thing, do we? 

Getting back to the first item of our list, the cleanse. We must control and change our attention. It will be hard…yet it is quite simple. Change what you give your attention to. Find alternatives for when you go to reach for your device, or sign in on your computer. Do a simple exercise. Take a walk. Stand and stretch. Talk to someone near you. Doodle on paper. Charge your mouse. Push yourself even further by meditating. Doing some yoga. Going for a run. Preparing meals. You see where I am going. Let’s be more intentional with our time. As we get older, do we want to look back and regret all the time we spent on social media when we could have been doing other things?

A cleanse, rather than a detox, allows you to still find ways to utilize social media in useful ways, in a healthy way. 

What do you think?

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