What Jack Dorsey Doesn’t Get About Wellness

Published on May 13, 2019

“It’s all about detaching yourself and being more in control of the reaction.” –Jack Dorsey

Billionaire Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey set off his very own Twitter storm recently when he shared his weekly starvation plan—one meal per day except on the weekend when there are no meals per day—with podcaster and professional Ironman Ben Greenfield who travels with a near-infrared light that he shines between his legs to boost his testosterone production.

If Ben were Benyneth, we’d be mocking her hormone-optimizing near-infra-jade egg, and if Jack were Jacqueline, we’d be talking about the horrors of disordered eating, but since Ben is Ben and Jack is Jack, we’re talking about biohacking, the hardcore manly-man approach to optimal health.

On “human guinea pigs”

Both Ben and Jack are obsessed with relentless self-experimentation. Jack’s goal is to “be performant and clear” which sounds like something Twitter should be. Everything Dorsey does involves going to extremes so he can dial back slowly and find the sweet spot that maximizes both body and brain. He meditates for two hours per day and goes on silent retreats where for 10 days he can’t talk, read, or even look anyone in the eyes. Dorsey finds mental clarity in extremes of hot and cold, and has a near-infrared sauna that’s “only” 125 degrees but raises his core temperature “very, very quickly” to make him feel cleaner.

And Jack Dorsey starves himself because he heard a guy on a podcast say “I only eat one meal a day” and suddenly he was all in on a fresh experiment that made time slow down. Sounds like a worthy life goal to slow down time, to find clarity, energy and focus, to be so hard on yourself that there is no one, not even on Twitter, who can be any harder on you.

Unless you look at the data.

Jack Dorsey is a data point of one and the long-term results of his serial experimentation haven’t played out yet, but for over 80 years, the Harvard study of adult development has examined the lives of hundreds of people, looking for clues of health and happiness. The most significant finding? Taking care of your body is important, but taking care of your relationships is even more important. The people who were most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80 and a happy marriage has a protective effect on mental health. Loneliness was as detrimental as smoking or alcoholism.

Is bio hacking legit?

Self-described biohackers  aim to mimic the lives of our ancient ancestors. It makes a lot of sense to approach health from an evolutionary perspective, to believe that our brains are still wired for life on the Savannah, yet many of us live in ways that bear no resemblance to that world and we’re suffering for it. Jack walks like a tribesman to work, exposes his body to extremes of hot and cold, but eats like he’s not quite fast enough to kill what he needs to survive. And unlike our ancient ancestors who answered the call of “Dinner’s ready” and were forced to look each other in the eye and converse, Jack mostly eats alone.

Jack is single and “every now and then” is out for dinner with friends or colleagues.” He’s 42, but wants to have children and figures he has lots of time to experiment on himself without affecting another person until he can lock in the optimal regimen of hot-cold, fasting-eating, high-intensity workouts and the work of being CEO at two companies then somehow figure out to introduce the messy variables of family. Hopefully they will enjoy green vegetables, thrive on discipline and can be as self-sufficient as he is.

In one of Jack’s experiments in veganism he thought he was making up for what was missing, but when he went home to St. Louis for Thanksgiving his mother said, “Jack, you’re orange…your skin is orange, your eyes are orange, your hair is orange.” The change was so gradual that he hadn’t noticed that he’d actually changed color. So he switched his experiment to Paleo.

Surely Jack Dorsey didn’t intend to become trapped in a lonely laboratory of solo experimentation, ricocheting from extreme to extreme in search of individual optimization, but every day he becomes more and more entrenched in a lifestyle that may have moments of fleeting clarity and focus, but can’t make up for what’s missing.

“A lot of what I do I do completely alone and in solitude…”

Jack, there’s so much more to life than being performant and clear.

Lynne Everatt is a Columnist at Grit Daily. She is a LinkedIn Top Voice in management and culture and a former careers columnist for The Globe & Mail. As a wellness expert with a passion for overall well-being, Everatt is the co-author of The 5-Minute Recharge.

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