Social Media Fast: Done on 20:00 04-10-19 to 07-10-2019 13:00
Intention: I noticed and felt a pattern emerging in regards to my SoMe use throughout the day and how it has effectively interrupted and sabotaged my deep work, and capacity to do deep work. I often found myself on SoME habitually rather than out of any real necessity.
1. Self-Observation The number one major realization for me was how restricting SoMe use created space for self-observation. Especially the space to allow Sitting with uncomfortable emotions, instead of distracting myself. In retrospect, it feels and seems like that distraction is more habitually conditioned than anything. I'm actually quite good at being able to sit with discomfort and persevere through hardship. I meditate and take time for self-reflection daily, although that does its job, the difference was very notable in the arising of uncomfortable feelings of several situations going on to which I now had space to sit them.
This “mystical” or “esoteric” allowance in regards to our feelings is really nothing more than creating the space to actually be aware of them, acknowledge them and feel them, instead of our modern tendency to escape. Escaping from these feelings is not allowing them to be, it's an ignoring that will and does later pop up in several ways. Like your partner feeling neglected or the inability to deeply connect with a partner or friend due to distraction or the socially acceptable excuse for escape with checking messages. In regards to relationships or relations, it seemed to “fulfill” this need on a superficial in short bursts that constantly needed a refill. In comparison, I actually felt more connected with and found myself to reach out to more, people throughout the day to communicate over Whatsapp that lead to far deeper and more socio-emotionally satisfying conversation.
2. Excuses Excuses What I found was that my SoMe use low order “excuse” to not be present in certain parts of my life and it gives me a certain disconnect from the monotone by giving me a perfect mix of familiarity (my environment, like the living room) while providing a stimuli of novelty (new information). There's a clear duality in this that took me by surprise as I have many drills and intentional practice of being present daily.
It's too easily and readily available tool to escape facets of reality we either don't enjoy or find uncomfortable. Bored? Pull out your phone. An awkward lull in the conversation? Pull out your phone. Don't know how to respond? Pull out your phone. Don't want to interact? Pull out your phone and pretend to be busy. We use this as low order get-out-of-jail-free-cards with the social implication that it doesn't matter that we do that. Or at least we like to justify it to ourselves and others it doesn't matter. However, it atrophies the skill to navigate the circumstances. More importantly, it completely eliminates the need to navigate these circumstances and many more. We're using our phone and SoMe as a band-aid to not have to cope or deal with what perceive are “minor” daily things. While all these minor things are what life is made up of and eventually compound into other behaviors.
3. Self-Regulation and Self-Reliance I ended up deciding against using an app as a third party to “force” my adherence to my fast. Why? Because if I'm using an app I'm not actually relying on will power and self-discipline. If I need to have an app do the work for me that means I'm not self-reliant but depending on the app instead of something internal in my control. In order for me to get activate my internal reward systems and get an internal reward that matters I need to navigate this challenge on my own internal regulation. When we think about it, this is how we feel good about anything in life. When we are able to overcome/beat a challenge, obstacle, adversity, hardship, we are rewarded for our effort/labor. The higher the challenge and adversity the higher the internal reward pay off: pride, meaning, purpose, happiness.
Should I have used an app I would have taken the reward away from myself and actually not have learned as much. We learn by activation of these internal reward systems, as dopamine feedback is used to confirm an action was successful. We reward toddlers, children, pets and even adults in various ways and degrees using gamification of the dopamine systems. Without dopamine release (or other hormones from the internal reward systems in the gut and brain) we don't learn as efficiently (or at all, as there is no incentive to learn). It's not just dopamine mind you, it's the combination of hormones released in correspondence to the specificity of the task, it's challenge level and it's risk level. What that means concretely: every time I caught myself habitually reaching for my phone or moving my finger towards a SoMe app after closing a NON SoMe app on my phone I was rewarded. It's a multidimensional experience as I in the first place increase awareness and in the second place reward myself for adherence to my goal/mission/task.
What I mean to convey here is that auto-regulation is far too important of a meta-skill to pass up on its use. If I can't auto-regulate (self regulate) I can't be self-reliant. So intentional use of SoMe is the goal, meaning that I'll set up certain parameters for its use and schedule in structured fasts. Intentional use is nothing with parameters, limitations, restriction and a structure. How will you make space for observing and witnessing yourself? Is your Social Media use intentional or habitual? Sim