What is Doom scrolling and Why It’s Harmful? How many hours have you spent just scrolling through your Facebook news feed or news stories online?
Depending on the content you are reading, scrolling can be harmful to our mental health. And yes, there is a name for it – doomscrolling.
Doomscrolling is also called doomsurfing and it was placed on the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s “Words We’re Watching” list since it gained a lot of popularity, especially during the pandemic.
How to Define Doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling can be defined as:
“the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.”
Why are we Doomscrolling?
When we are stressed, we tend to turn to social media for information or distraction. Doomscrolling is almost a coping mechanism especially during times of uncertainty, as it is now in today’s world.
Don’t get us wrong, staying up to date with COVID – 19 news and recommendations is important, as it is staying connected with your friends. For both reasons, doomscrolling became very popular during the pandemic, whether people were looking for more information or they were trying to stay in touch with their friends when they could not connect face to face with their friends or loved ones. When we talk about doomscrolling, there is also a feeling of missing out. When there is a lot of breaking news, we might feel like we are missing out and doomscrolling becomes “a solution.”
In times like these when we are talking about racism more than ever, we might even feel guilty if we are not doomscrolling. This can mean that we are not interested to be informed and that we are turning the other cheek. However, it’s important to keep in mind if we are spending too much time following news and not taking care of ourselves, we are less likely to take real action.
What are the Effects of Doomscrolling on Our Mental Health?
We turn to news to make sense of what’s going on in the world. When information is not available or given in its entirety, people can feel helpless, frustrated, or angry. We have to draw the line between staying informed and doomscrolling.
In some cases, doomscrolling can create similar symptoms to post-traumatic disorder, especially if we are dealing with stressful content as we are during the pandemic.
What Can You Do About Doomscrolling?
Instead of scrolling through apps, opt for reading magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. Once you find other sources, minimize the time spent online, scrolling through social media while looking for more information. It’s important to minimize the number of news we read while still staying informed.
Listen to podcasts or news instead of scrolling down on your phone. Incorporate watching the news in your daily routine and opt for reliable sources, most mainstream media channels in the US spin all the news and outright misinform. Learn while volunteering and spending time with other people. News is not the only place where you can stay informed. Have discussions with your friends, share information, fact check each other’s information, and have a healthy dialogue. Most people only know what they are exposed to in mainstream media, and unfortunately, the level of bias and misinformation is at an all-time high.
The most important thing is to be mindful and connected to the issues that matter to you. If you find yourself doomscrolling, urge yourself to look for some positive news as well to find some peace and joy in this crazy world.
Doomscrolling should never be a way for us to escape reality. We should be fully engaged in our daily lives and the lives of others. Staying connected matters. Staying connected with others matters but most importantly staying connected with yourself matters. Mindless dooomscrolling is not the way to stay connected with yourself.