Scroll, roll over and scroll some more. Sound familiar? Yeah, we’ve just described your night-time routine! While this is a normal part of living in the age of social media, the pandemic has added an element of doom and gloom to it i.e a spiralling vortex of bad news. We’ve all been searching for an end in sight. Trying to find out when the vaccine is coming out, or endlessly tracking the number of people affected by it. This frustrating search for clarity actually has a term for it! It’s called Doomscrolling.
WHAT DOES DOOMSCROLLING MEAN?
It’s the act of compulsively consuming an endless procession of bad news online, even though it’s disheartening and depressing. In other words - as the Urban dictionary defines it - Doomscrolling refers to obsessively browsing social media posts about how utterly fucked we are! Been there, done that.
While the term has gained popularity during the COVID, the concept has been around much longer. Ironically the word originally referred to a law or ordinance. Yet, given the state of our justice systems we think the irony has lost its humour. People have been doomscrolling for ages, be it about women’s rights, police brutality to rising unemployment. Anything negative or unfair, which has no end in sight could be a subject of doomscrolling.
WHY DO WE DOOMSCROLL?
Well, because of biology! According to Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, a physician at Harvard Medical School, the pandemic has triggered our survival instincts. COVID has become the metaphorical tiger on the prowl, which our mind is trying to safeguard against by collecting more information. Unfortunately, much like the threats from wild-life, the pandemic is unpredictable. So, we’re helpless in the face of its fate. And, this helplessness has translated into a fear of missing out on new information, instigating us to browse for hours on end to read more. And, you’re not at fault for giving into this habit. Social media algorithms are facilitating this behaviour, by providing us snippets of information without context. This makes it almost impossible to piece together a clear narrative. So, we end up scrolling some more in the hopes of finding that one piece of information which would make everything clear. And, since there’s no neatly packaged solution waiting with a bow on it, we start feeling helpless and stop taking effective steps to deal with the situation
HOW DO WE STOP DOOMSCROLLING?
This is tough, considering that there’s so much pressure to constantly stay informed. But, your mind needs a break. Here are a few tips which can help give it that much needed breather.
- Don’t let the ping make a Pavlov out of you. Switch off the notification on news apps. This prevents you from instantly checking out the news and clog your brain with a ton of unnecessary information
- Feel free to blink and miss. On some apps like Twitter, you feel like you;re going to miss out on information the minute you blink. But darling, get some shut-eye and log out. The world isn’t going to disappear while you nap. So log out for a while?
- Slink away from the screen. Limit your screen time. Not only does this reduce your doomscrolling propensities, it also allows you to look beyond the screen and find another scenery to marvel at.
It’s not easy to detach from social media, trust us we’ve tried! And, to be honest it does have some good things about it. We met through social media too, right? So, if you can’t tune out, then curate a positive feed for yourself. Follow pages which help you stay positive. Like um.. hint hint, nudge nudge - us?