If you’ve watched the Netflix docudrama “Social Dilemma,” you would have certainly heard the term “doomscrolling.”
Every day, we spend hours scrolling through endless doom-and-gloom headlines, and each day we slide deeper into a pit of despair.
Our yearning for breaking news has been fostered by a recent barrage of doomsday articles about the coronavirus pandemic, as well as stay-at-home directives. This habit, on the other hand, is wreaking havoc on our mental health.
It’s not a recent phenomenon to lose track of time when scrolling through social media, keeping you awake at night or preventing you from doing productive work throughout the day. But here’s what makes it different in today’s society: You get an onslaught of dismal information, whether it’s COVID-19 updates or photographs of dead bodies, flooding all of your feeds.
At this point, doomscrolling is a monster that’s difficult to avoid when restaurants and pubs are closed and going out with friends involves social distancing. Wherever we look, we are reminded of all that is wrong with the world. Even though it’s difficult and you feel it’s your social responsibility to be informed, your health should come first, and you should attempt to reduce your exposure to stressful situations.
If you think you’re still unaffected by social media and doomscrolling, put your phone away for seven days. You will discover the drastic effects of social media on your life.
If you find yourself constantly surfing the web and feeling pretty crappy after, try these strategies to ditch the doomscroll:
1. Understand your triggers
If news about politics makes you nervous and anxious, probably avoid them for a bit, at least until you’re in a better state of mind to absorb them. Block push notifications, mute and unfollow individuals who get agitated on social media, and stay away from issues that rile you up. Subscribing to a newsletter and using it as your primary source of information is one efficient way to filter out the news.
2. Try joyscrolling
Understand your phone’s algorithms by bookmarking positive news headlines and following social media accounts for literature, movies, gardening, or art.
It will be much simpler if you concentrate and surround yourself with websites that improve the digital world. Subscribing to sites that promote positivity, gratitude, healing, compassion, or even if it makes you laugh would be so wonderful. When your feed is filled with feel-good things, it will help you combat doomscrolling
In a short, follow as many cutesy cats and dogs accounts as possible. Oh, the food videos would definitely make you happy.
3. Live in the moment
I know “live in the moment” sounds so Bollywoodish, but it is also the best thing to do. Tumbling down a constant worry loop about the uncertain future only adds to existing anxiety in times of crisis. Understanding that the current moment is all we have and all we can control is a good place to start when trying to bring your racing mind back to the present.
Why not spend some quality time with your family instead of doomscrooling the headlines that can wreck your mental state? Isn’t that crucial? Change your vicious cycle to a virtuous cycle.
4. Zoom call your friends to discuss news updates
With the added stress of a global pandemic, you can’t live under a rock. We understand! At this time, we all yearn to have a basic understanding of world news. Maybe you’re worried about the vaccine, but you don’t want to be entirely shut off from the news right now. So, what are your options?
One option is to have a nice Friday night virtual hangout with your best buddies to discuss the latest news on vaccines. But first, make sure you’re comfortable enough in this community to express yourself. Inform your friends about your efforts to reduce doomscrolling. Let them know you’re depending on them to keep up with news and events.
5. Set a schedule to do something different other than scrolling for content
Make an effort to change your plan every couple of weeks. These schedules should allow you to work, exercise, eat well, and spend time alone, preferably away from your phone and laptop. Schedule some outdoor walks and phone calls if you find yourself continuously checking the news and set deadlines to complete the task. Be honest with yourself about your goals and aspirations.
6. Change your news consumption
Switch to long-form journalism offered by print newspapers that provide the most critical data one needs to know and are more likely to have a constructive perspective, incisive analysis, and a better option.
We understand that no one has the time to read a 1000-word news story when you can get the gist of it on social media. However, you should be aware that the majority of social media outlets spread false information that might affect your peace of mind; instead, spend time learning the truth. Furthermore, what exactly are Facebook, Google, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, and other social media platforms? Are there any free tools? There is an old adage that says, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
There are digital media outlets including ProPublica, Guardian, Caravan who do exemplary investigative and long-form journalism and try reading that investigative precise news instead of consuming it from Twitter or Instagram.
7. Limit your social media usage
Pick your favorite song as the tone of your alarm every time you are scrolling for content on social media, and let that inspire you to get off Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. (Alternatively, use the built-in screen time controls on Apple and Google devices.)
It’s also a good idea to avoid social media entirely on at least one weekday and spend your weekends away from social media. Constantly checking every update on social media won’t make you feel better or improve your productivity. To be productive, you might want to put your phone away.
Bonus tip read Eli Pariser’s book, “Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You,” to learn how these algorithms deceive us. This book also raises some intriguing ethical issues, such as whether organizations have a duty to communicate the inferences they draw about us.
Concluding this article with the quote from the docudrama ‘Social Dilemma’: “social media is a market place that trades humans and everything you are doing online is traced, watched, and monitored thoroughly.”