What is Doomscrolling?
Definition of Doomscrolling
Doomscrolling is a term used to describe the act of continuously scrolling through negative news or information on the internet, despite the detrimental effects on one’s mental health.
This phenomenon has become increasingly common in the information age, as people have access to a constant stream of news updates through social media and news websites.
The term “doom-scrolling” highlights the sense of doom and despair that many people feel when they are constantly bombarded with negative information. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness, and can negatively impact a person’s overall well-being.
To combat doom-scrolling, experts recommend setting limits on social media use, focusing on positive news and information, and prioritizing self-care activities that promote mental and emotional health.
Why Does Doomscrolling Continue to Happen?
The human brain is naturally wired to seek out danger and threat as a survival mechanism. As a result, we are wired to pay more attention to negative news stories, which can lead to an unhealthy fixation with doomscrolling.
Also, the constant flow of information and accessibility of social media and news websites means that it is easier than ever to get sucked into a spiral of negative news consumption.
Finally, the addictive nature of social media and the desire to stay informed and up-to-date with the latest news can also contribute to the compulsion to doomscroll.
The Effects and Risks of Doomscrolling
One of the main effects of doom-scrolling is the increase in anxiety and depression symptoms. Constant exposure to negative news can lead to a feeling of helplessness and despair, which in turn affects individuals’ moods. Another effect of doomscrolling is the disruption of sleep patterns, as the blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the body’s circadian rhythm.
Doomscrolling can lead to a phenomenon known as confirmation bias, where individuals only seek out news that supports their pre-existing beliefs, leading to a distorted perception of reality. This can further lead to the spread of misinformation and polarization, as people become more entrenched in their beliefs.
While it is important to stay informed, it is crucial to control your exposure to negative news, regulate screen time, and seek out positive news sources or journalists who practice Solutions Journalism.
How to Avoid Doomscrolling
5 Tips to Eliminate Doomscrolling
1. Set a Time Limit:
Limit the amount of time you spend on social media and other news platforms. Setting a specific time limit for scrolling on these sites will help you be more mindful of how much time you are spending online.
2. Take Breaks:
Take frequent breaks from the screen. Taking breaks will help you break your cycle of doom-scrolling and shift your focus to other activities.
3. Switch Off Notifications:
Switch off notifications on your phone for social media and news apps. This will help you reduce the urge to constantly check your phone for new updates.
4. Rely on Trusted Sources:
Rely only on trusted sources for news updates. Avoid sensational headlines and unsubstantiated news stories that can trigger feelings of anxiety and distress.
Find publications that practice Solutions Journalism which means they don’t just report about the problems in the world but also go in-depth about the solutions to those problems.
5. Have a Routine:
Create a routine that includes self-care activities, such as reading, exercising, meditating, or spending time with loved ones. Engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation can help you stay motivated and avoid doomscrolling.
By following these tips, you can break the cycle of doom-scrolling and prioritize your mental health and well-being.
Are News Organizations Doing Anything About Doomscrolling?
Some news organizations have noticed the negative effects of Doomscrolling and are making changes to their reporting of the news to help stop the spread of a false narrative that nothing good is happening in the world.
The Seattle Times, for example, has implemented a Solutions Journalism approach to news reporting where they don’t report problems without also reporting on the solutions that are being implemented to solve the problems. This is a welcome shift in reporting and the Seattle Times isn’t alone. Many other news outlets are making the shift to a solutions journalism approach to news.
Flipboard, a magazine-style news and content aggregator found that during the COVID19 Pandemic people were spending more time on their devices and were using their app to doom scroll through negative information resulting in all the negative implications of doom-scrolling – anxiety, depression, hopelessness, etc.
Recognizing this issue, Flipboard took steps to minimize it by launching a new feature called “The Daily Edition” which provides a curated, balanced selection of top news stories each day.
Additionally, Flipboard also redesigned its app to prioritize content from trusted sources and to make it easier for users to discover positive and uplifting stories.
And don’t forget that there are many websites that focus on positive news and progress. You’re reading an article on one of those sites right now! The Great News Podcast is committed to providing only good news and although we cover serious problems we only focus on the solutions to those issues and what is being done to improve the world.