“I’m taking a break from social media. See you all soon”
In recent months, I have seen several variations of the above line from friends and “influencers.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Social Media is scaring the shit out of me.
In this post, my hope is to propose a new kind of fasting: the Intermittent Social Media Fasting (ISMF) protocol.
What is Fasting?
Chances are, you’ve heard of Intermittent Fasting, or just fasting — an evolutionary approach (which I’ve written about) to maintain fat loss, increase muscle mass and feel fucking fantastic. In no way shape or form am I doctor (wouldn’t want to be, have you seen most ‘doctors?’), so take whatever I say with a grain of Himalayan pink salt.
Fasting transcends the dietary application it’s associated with. There is a line in Siddhartha, by Harmann Hesse, where the protagonist is asked by a merchant what he can offer the world. After a throw back of bars here and there, the protagonist tells the merchant: “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.”
Those three deceptively simple statements guide Tim Ferriss’ book (more like a bible), Tools of Titans . When analyzed further, those three statements should be the guide for every life on Earth.
In Tim’s words (and Naval Ravikant ‘s), he explains the timeless wisdom behind each proposition:
I can think: Having good rules for decision-making, and having good questions you can ask yourself and others.
"I can wait: Being able to plan long-term, play the long game, and not mis-allocate your resources.
"I can fast: Being able to withstand difficulties and disaster. Training yourself to be uncommonly resilient and have a high pain tolerance.”
Let’s dive into the last one, fasting.
Social Media has taken over the head-space in our lives. To think any less of that problem is to be ignorant. Yes, certain freakishly disciplined people genuinely have a control on their Social Media use (I’m definitely not one of them), but the way I see it, most do not. And, the ones who do have ‘control,’ more than likely, are just too busy feeding their family by working 3 jobs to post a self-affirming picture on Facebook.
I could quote thousands of blog posts telling you why Social Media is the devil and how its ruining your life — but, most of these posts / articles are merely highlighting the problem with very floppy solutions. Yeah, just forget about your phone, think happy thoughts, look inward blah blah blah…
Hopefully, I present a solution that actually works while maintaining the ‘reward’ / good relationship you have with Social Media. Because let’s be honest, we all fucking want happiness and to be connected and to see how we are doing online and to be in the loop of rad events happening around us.
Intermittent Social Media Fasting (ISMF)
Dietary Intermittent Fasting usually looks like this: you stop eating at a specific time, let’s say 8pm in the evening, then you fast until 2pm the next day. In that window, you eat your calories, but still to a deficit (don’t confuse Intermittent Fasting with time-restricted eating — the latter, you shove all your calories in during that window of time — I do a bit of both depending on how I feel).
The reason dietary fasting works is that it gives your body room to use its own stored energy for daily use. It puts you in a state of nutritional ketosis. We were not designed to be constantly shoving calories into our bodies. We were designed to go periods without anything and then periods of abundance.
The same applies to ISMF. Let’s apply the concept from dietary fasting. You stop looking at your Social Media account an hour before bed, let’s say 8pm, then proceed to ‘fast’ until 2pm the next day. Simple but effective.
It works. ISMF gives you freedom and flexibility. During the fasting window is when you want to be creative, make that phone call and do your most important task for the day.
Being someone who is not great at moderation, I know that once the floodgates of social media are open, it’s hard to turn back. Thats why its critical to do this in the morning.
Protect your morning with you life. One of the most self-destructive habits one could have to waking up and opening Facebook. It will make you a reactive steam-rolling mess that will have very little judgement in situations outside your control.
ISFM Makes you less reactive and more proactive.
dietary fasting and ismf for all the benefits
Try synchronising dietary fasting with Intermittent Social Media Fasting (ISMF) jsut make life easier. Not only is this easier, but paradoxically, this self-imposed restriction will give you more freedom, happiness and flexibility than you can imagine.
Identifying patterns like these help. For instance, synchronising your travel schedule with a (proper) fasting schedule. Many top-performers and longevity experts are now doing this. When flying — long or short distances — using fasting as a tool to, not only to help stay clear of bad eating habits, but to also flex that inherently deceptive self-discipline muscle.
The more you flex that muscle, the stronger it gets. The more you work at that muscle, the easier it gets. Each time you flex it, you reach a baseline. Soon, it will be part of your identity and you will no longer even think about it.
Always remember that as humans we have a need to stay consistent with who we say we are
Used correctly, Social Media can be an expression of your creativity — a platform that makes what you do come to life!
To suggest the pure Sabbatical route is not the answer. However, I do think going long periods — a week or month every so often — without connection to the outside world is beneficial, too. In fact, just like meditation and dietary fasting, this will inform your daily ISMF protocol and make it easier.
I’m not saying I follow my own rules. I’m fucking shocking at that. If we all followed the advice we give others we would all be at peace. But, having this awareness has made me more conscious and increasingly happier as a result.
What self-imposed limitations do you have, if any, in place?
See you in the comments.