I’m a day late! So this is a quickie, because we’ve already lost a day of practice! Happily, I can assure you that this is a practice that is 100% effective. It is one of those win-win practices; it helps take your brain off of the intermittent-dopamine-reward addiction of checking your twitter or Facebook or Newsfeed app incessantly, and it helps make you slightly more antifragile by increasing your situational awareness and capacity for “boredom.”
Ready? Here it is:
Shut off your cellular data to those apps.
I’m not going to go through the steps of doing this; it’s different for every kind of phone or computer or tablet. But most of your mobile devices, when they don’t have a wifi connection, will be using data via the cellular network to refresh your feed from social media.
Don’t let them.
Just cut off the gravy hose. It’s the equivalent of saying “Want to watch less TV? Unplug it.”
What will happen (and go ahead and try this, just to get a laugh) is that the next time you want to “check the feed”, you will reach for the phone, pull up the app – and stare blankly in a moment of digital deja vu: “Didn’t I already read this?” scroll down “They already said that this morning.” scroll further”Wait, why is that story posted agai- oh.”
And that’s when your lizard brain, deprived of the easy source of dopamine, will throw up its scaly hands in despair and change the channel to that tried-and-true reality show, “Scan the Horizon for Predators.”
It’s Not About Weak Will, It’s About Strong Won’t
Now, notice I did not say this will cure your compulsion entirely. That takes something a big bigger, like maybe a Simple Time of Peace or other media retreat (I am late with today’s blog because yesterday I was in just such a place, and damn, it was lovely). This particular practice is just a way for you to be able to cut back a bit, to reduce things.
It’s dead simple: you already have all the tools you need, no apps to install, no weird devices to strap to your wrist. That is also one of the weaknesses of this method: it’s just as simple to turn your cellular data to those apps on again, wherever you are. So it’s not about whether you will want to check your feeds; it’s about whether you won’t make it possible again.
Gonna try this hack for a week? I did it last week, and I confess; there was a moment when I “had to” check my Facebook. I rationalized that I needed to chat with my daughters; but really, could I have found a different method? Certainly.
Let’s see if we can make it to next Monday. Who’s with me?