What is doomscrolling?
What is doomscrolling? Thanks for asking!
The more bad news we hear, the more we tend to get consumed by social media feeds, incessantly scrolling through our apps. Americans have come up with a term for that phenomenon: doomscrolling. Spoiler alert: it’s not the best for your mental health. If you use Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you definitely know the feeling. You open the app and start scrolling through your feed on autopilot mode, sinking deeper and deeper into the infinity of posts. In the context of an unnerving situation covered by countless posts, it becomes virtually impossible to put your phone away. To describe this phenomenon, the term “doomscrolling” was coined on Twitter in 2018.
So why do we doomscroll then?
In times of crisis, we feel the need to make some sense out of the world around us. This could be due to current events like the Covid19 pandemic and worldwide antiracism protests. Other scenarios include terrorist attacks and climate change. In order to get information, we turn to the media, which in this day and age often means social media in particular. The problem with social media is that we don't get to pre-select the info we see. It’s impossible for our brain to organize it to create a coherent story. In addition to the fact that the algorithms trap us in a bad news bubble, they force us to stay connected. Lastly, the final trap lies in the endless scrolling. Whereas a newspaper, magazine or TV newscast have a pre-defined end, our social media feeds can simply go on forever! The “mean world syndrome” first described in the 70s implies that, exposed to violent content on TV, we tend to perceive the world as a more dangerous place than it actually is. The same happens when it comes to doomscrolling: the outside world becomes hostile, which can trigger a certain amount of anxiety or worse - depression. Which is why from the very beginning of self-isolation therapists have been warning us against spending too much time checking news feeds.
How can we balance this against the need to stay informed? In under 3 minutes, we answer your questions!
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