When is the last time you stopped scrolling on Instagram to watch cute pets or looked for new workout routines to try, instead of reading the coronavirus news or news that was about disasters or anything generally negative? If your answer is. “I don’t remember” or “Maybe 5 months back”, you are officially engaged in the behavior known as ‘doomscrolling’.
What is ‘doomscrolling’?
The Urban dictionary defines doomscrolling as “When you keep scrolling through all of your social media feeds, looking for the most recent upsetting news about the latest catastrophe. The amount of time spent doing this is directly proportional to how much worse you’re going to feel after you’re done.”
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic left us locked down in our homes, we follow the same ritual, thumb down, and thumb up on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and literally on all social media apps. We do this in a desperate attempt to find some clarity among all the things that are happening around us right now. But as we do this, we fall into an endless downward spiral of feeling bad. This is what is called ‘doomscrolling’ or ‘doomsurfing’.
Why do we ‘doomscroll’?
Theory #1: Humans love information
According to experts, humans love information. So, having access to endless information for 24 hours via our smartphone means we can binge on it in excessive amounts, which is undoubtedly bad. Especially now, because the daily news is almost invariably negative and depressing and yet, we cannot resist the urge to scroll through and read all about coronavirus.
Theory #2: We have nothing much to do.
According to a report from Axios, during this coronavirus period, the screen time is up as much as 50% among children ages 6-12. It is bad, but understandable of course. Because bad news isn’t necessarily in short supply these days and with the whole stay at the home scenario, people tend end up engaging in doomscrolling.
Theory #3: We are hardwired to see the negative
Another reason why we doomscroll is that we, humans are all hardwired to see the negative and be drawn to the negative. We do this because of our long-learned trait of ‘If we knew all about the bad, we can find a way to avoid the bad’. It is a kind of a survival mechanism that is hardcoded in our DNA. It helps us sense danger and learn more about it to avoid it.
But in reality, even if we keep scrolling and scrolling, hoping that doomscrolling would be helpful, we will only end up feeling worse afterward. But fortunately, there are some things we can do to lessen our doomscrolling habit.
How to stop doomscrolling?
Step 1: Admit you that are doomscrolling
The first step to stop doomscrolling is to admit that you are doing it at all. Checking tweets about coronavirus first thing in the morning? Doomscrolling. Keeping tabs on the count of coronavirus positive cases in your area all day? That’s right. You are doomscrolling.
Step 2: Analyze yours mind state after doomscrolling
Now try to analyze your state of mind after you have doomscrolled. Does it make you feel better or do you end up feeling more hopeless? If it’s the latter, you need to stop doomscrolling right now!
Step 3: Limit smart phone and social media use
Try to limit your smartphone usage and social media usage. Keep a fixed time limit and when time is up, put your phone down and don’t doomscroll again for the rest of the day.
Step 4: Focus on the positive
Now, train yourself to see more positive things around you. You can also approach this methodologically by looking for at least three positive things a day. This will make you feel better.
Step 5: Avoid all negativity
Now all you need to do is to stick to it. Focus only on the positive things and try to avoid all negativity around you.
Ultimately, stopping doomscrolling and not looking at your phone won’t stop the pandemic. But doomscrolling regularly isn’t going to do any good to your physical or mental health. So, try to stop your doomscrolling habit and focus on the positive things around you.