Kyle sent me a fascinating article on the idea of “dopamine fasting” last week, and though it sounds, it feels kind of plausible. The idea is simple: we get hits of dopamine from our brain from things like cheeseburgers, TV, Instagram, sex, and our brain really loves them. With all this constant stimulation our modern lives our brains get a little numb, like a worn down tire. That’s the theory at least, though no one is sure how laid this claim is.
Eric Bowman, Ph.D., a neuroscience lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, hadn’t heard of dopamine fasting before Inverse reached out to him, but he grasped the concept behind it right away.
“My admittedly superficial understanding of the idea behind dopamine fasting is that modern life causes dopamine overstimulation, which in turn causes the molecular changes which ‘calm down’ dopamine neurotransmission, but that this results in dopamine transmission being too low between rewards,” he tells Inverse. “A break from the fast pace of modern-day rewards would allow the system to reset, or so the theory goes.”
Personally, I find myself needing to disconnect more and more. I’m sitting at LACMA drinking bubbly wine and writing this on an iPad, but I’m using the technology as a tool, not stuck in a black hole. My friend Lindsay recommended the book How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell (more in another post) which reaffirms a lot of the things I’m feeling lately. All of these ideas, essentially going back to simpler time (minus the racism, homophobia, misogyny, patriarchy), is having a renaissance.