If you are an alcoholic and decide to take a one month “alcohol fast” is that going to help? Even if you’re successful for the month, once you start drinking again, you’ve relapsed and your functioning will begin to deteriorate.
This is why the extended digital or social media fasts people take may not be the best thing for many, especially for those who need to control phone and social media addiction which is a bigger deal than you might realize.
The month long social media fasts are great for those who are not addicts or potential addicts. They can foster reflection, refocusing, and spiritual replenishment. Go listen to Dasarte Yanway’s superb podcast for perspective if this resonates. He does inspiring work.
But for junkies, the mobile device is a bottle and social apps are bourbon. They’re designed to get you hooked and they’re hyper effective at it. People spend their lives scrolling and liking and trying to be liked. It is an epidemic.
I recommend something different for the majority of people who have lost control of the time they are spending on their phones. And btw, you only have a limited time to live so ceding precious moments to Zuckerburg or Dorsey or Spiegal might not be the wisest thing.
Intermittent fasting (IF) refers to eating within a time window and limiting calorie intake for extended periods ranging from 16 hours to a few days.
Recently, IF has gained more interest as evidence accumulates regarding its effectiveness in promoting weight loss, type 2 diabetes management, and cellular rejuvenation (autophagy). IF can also be a great way to develop self-control strategies that are then generalized across other domains of functioning.
Digital Intermittent Fasting
IF can be applied to social media use also as a way to manage the time you spend consuming and being consumed.
The weekend social media fast is a good start. On Fridays at 5 PM, you stop using social apps and discontinue until you wake up Monday morning. If you need to, put the phone in a drawer or something.
If you have trouble with the weekend phone fast, it only suggests how much you probably need it.
Next, you can progress your digital IF schedule by fasting during evenings – say from 8PM by using that same drawer or activating airplane mode and/or the do not disturb feature.
If you can establish these limits habitually, it might help free up more time for other stuff.