What is doomscrolling and how does it affect our psyche?
Doomscrolling or doomsurfing. A phenomenon that has gained strength in pandemic times. Again, it affects many people who cannot break away from following more news about the war in Ukraine. Is it possible to stop? What could be the consequences of doomscrolling?
What is doomscrolling?
The term “doomscrolling” (or doomsurfing) appeared in our reality around 2018. It refers to scrolling, which, as many people know, can be hard to break away from. In this particular case, it is hard to get away from scrolling for more negative news. From searching for more information about a pandemic or a war. From checking further facts.
When the situation is uncertain, when there is a virus or a war in our closest neighbors, but not only then, we are unable to tear ourselves away from the phone, compulsively looking for answers to questions that torment us. We start the day by scrolling and end up in bed with just that, overloading our head and body with information that arouses emotions, anxiety….
Doomscrolling is the excessive devotion of time and attention to absorbing more negative news, which can lead to negative psychophysical reactions in some of us.
Doomscrolling — effects
We’ve known for a long time that abusing our phones and spending time online affects our physical and mental health. However, it is also very important what kind of content we consume at that time. Obviously, the negative ones, talking about death, disasters, etc. lower our mood. It seems innocent, because how to have a good mood when so much evil is happening in the world. But most of this evil does not depend on us and our worrying is not going to help anyone. It is better to act, to help, if there is such a possibility. Let us also not forget that our mental condition is not made of steel and it is worth taking care of it. A German study from April 2020 found that there is a link between how much time we spend online, how exposed we are to and exposed to negative news and increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is increasingly being called information stress.
News Stress — Symptoms
The mentioned negative news stirs up emotions in us that make us exhausted or drained by it. We may therefore feel tired, irritable, have headaches, trouble sleeping, nausea, lack of appetite…
Doomscrolling — how to stop
While it may seem like doomscrolling is a vicious cycle that’s hard to break out of because the only way to calm down is to read more fact-checking messages, it’s worth a try. The first important step is to realize how much doomscrolling is taking up your time and what state it’s getting us into. Then ask yourself, for example, do we need to know the course of the war minute by minute? Isn’t it better once or twice a day to get a reliable summary from a medium that verifies its sources and provides not only sensational news, but also reliable analysis of the situation? It is therefore necessary to limit the sources of information, as well as the time devoted to them. Undoubtedly, the obvious placing the phone away from us or imposing some fixed framework for using social media (at specific times, trying not to reach for the phone just after waking up and before going to sleep), turning off notifications can make us scroll less often and thus put us in a state of anxiety, fuel our hunger for information. Without a doubt, there is also no hesitation to seek professional help if we or we alone cannot cope with this situation, scrolling is a habit that hinders our daily functioning.
Also, if we have the physical and mental, material capacity, a much better way to get involved in the situation, to deal with it, is to really help, to make things happen, allowing us to take our minds off the topic of concern.
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