I've been a regular Instagram user for almost 3 years and recently, after studying about the topics of social media and its impact on us humans it led me to start a dopamine fast, basically staying away from all kinds of dopamine inducing things like games, social media, among other things.
Dopamine is a "happy hormone" that makes us feel good when it is released in the brain. It is released whenever we do the activities that are essential for survival of our species.
However, the modern world has created so many sources of artificially inducing of this chemical that make us feel good without doing any hard work.
We being humans, always try to find the easiest path to get what we want. In this case we try to find easier path to feel happy and that we get in the form of social media that releases dopamine just by the swipe of a finger or through notifications.
Back in the days of hunters and gatherers, humans had to hunt down animals and bring it home for the family and that would release the chemical bringing happiness and satisfaction.
Today, you don't even have to put in the work of doing anything productive. This ends up in you losing the motivation to actually do things that are meaningful and instead keep tapping and swiping endlessly on a rectangular object that we call phone and get stuck in that loop forever.
How scary is that? All that's happening is people being milked of their attention by these platforms that pours in millions of dollars in research to keep people addicted for as long as possible.
Attention is one of the most expensive currencies in the world and we are being robbed of it in broad daylight and nobody seems to give a f#ck about it.
There's a saying, "Energy flows where your attention goes." And the world runs on energy. No wonder they are trying to get people's attention and try to keep people hooked on.
What tends to happen eventually is the mind gets used to receiving high amount of dopanine endlessly and it gradually reduces the number of receptors to balance things out.
This means the amount of feel good chemicals released while doing real productive work (which is less in number compared to that released by artificial stimulation) is not even sufficient to give the person enough motivation/happiness to do the work.
As a result he tends to rely more and more on artificial stimulation leading him to become unmotivated and unproductive in real world activities.
I did an experiment to tackle this challenge of excessive dopamine release. I stopped the usage of social media including whatsapp, fb, instagram completely and also did a full day food fast. That meant total dopamine fast for a day.
Here's the changes I noticed:
I observed myself getting drawn to places or things that helped release it. For example my body started getting drawn to food because this was one of the sources.
I noticed I wanted to socialize/talk more to people and have honest conversations because that's one of the sources for release of this chemical.
Normally we tend to talk very less when we are addicted to our phones and that's because phone is an easier way of release of these chemicals than having a conversation.
Also, I wanted to do any productive work that would give me satisfaction because my body was craving dopamine.
See the difference when there's excessive dopamine release vs no dopamine in the brain? You would want to work to get your brain to release dopamine.
We can make the best use of this body of ours when we learn all the mechanisms by which it works.
The natural reaction of our animal instincts are not so relevant in the modern world as they were during cavemen times which would help in saving their ass and help survive the wild.
However, most of our primal instincts can be used for our advantage if they are studied and our reactions to these instincts are consciously chosen based on what's good for us.