This term ‘Doomscrolling’ might be very new but not this habit. So what is this Doomscrolling habit? Well, it is described as the habit of continuously scrolling through endless bad news stories on your smartphone app, on social media or on the internet. It is presently happening a lot given the situation of the coronavirus pandemic all over the world. And people get obsessed to bad news, they just can’t stop reading information that is depressing and negative.
When it comes to staying updated with what’s going on in the world, there’s no question that social media feeds have the immense role.
But all this simple scrolling can come at a cost, especially when it seems that all the feeds are negative. As days go by, that idle and absent-minded scrolling can impact your mental health in a negative manner and could also manifest physically on us. This is the reason this habit has recently gained the trend of being called as doomscrolling after all. ‘Doomscrolling is using social media, news applications, or other digital platforms to search for or consume negative news, disturbing news or anything with a negative spin, says Felicia Gould, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Miami Health System. ‘Since the outset of the pandemic, the availability of this kind of news has exploded. With rising death tolls, damages to the economy, job losses, family hardships, and racial discrimination dominating recent headlines, doom and gloom are easily accessible.’
So, how are we so addicted to this habit of scrolling? This habit could be compared to how we train a pet. We direct the pet to do something as we want and when it gets it done, we reward the pet with something. Gradually with the rewarding this becomes a habit of the pet. Same happens with us in doomscrolling. In the fast pace of electronic media and smart devices today we are always hungry to get displayed, to catch attention. Hence we keep looking for feed that can grab a few likes or comments or any other attention of our viewers, followers or friends on social media. With the hope of that we keep looking, we keep scrolling just every day, every time we hold the device at hand. The internet networking on the other hand wants us to get engaged to information, to their benefits hence they ensure that people keep scrolling. In addition to this scrolling habit, the present-day crisis of pandemic leading to only and only regularized negative information on our devices is resulting in mental health issues.
According to some psychological research we are attracted to negative news than positive ones as it stimulates our brains.
For example news like the world going to end will catch our attention and we keep looking about these contents. Hence the news also ensures to feed that news more than the positive information on social media. According to a research by National Center for Biotechnology Information, adults display a negativity bias. Bad news is good for the attention economy. Emotionally charged tweets are retweeted much quicker and triggering posts are shared way faster. Because of this, feel-good content is not the best for the social media engagement statistics. You are made to feel triggered after a session of doomscrolling so that you will come back for more. Well, it triggers your mental health to a bad extent especially you are not healthy and are suffering from any kind of stress, anxiety or depression. The habit can enhance the symptom even to an extent that can impact the daily life of a person. As a person continues to excessively absorb negative information, the result can be a genuine impact on their day-to-day lives, says Dr. Gould.
“Doomscrolling is likely to produce negative thoughts about one’s life, others around them, and the world. These thoughts can then be paired with potentially unhealthy behaviors such as social withdrawal and withdrawal from physical activity, leading to a more depressed emotional state,”
she says. “For example, people may stop engaging in self-care, eating and drinking healthfully, and doing things for others. They may withdraw from talking to friends and engaging in other positive behaviors, because they don’t see the purpose in such a bleak world.”
However, although it is difficult to get rid of the habit of doomscrolling nothing is really impossible if you wish to do it. There are a few steps you could take to ensure that you are not negatively influenced by information through your daily social media consumption like assigning particular time durations and setting limits to browsing and scrolling, focusing on reliable and positive information, getting rid of your devices unless necessary and spending more time with family, friends and other healthy activities. That way you will keep yourself secure and sound and way far from this ultra-modern bad habit.