What is doomscrolling

What is doomscrolling, and is it harmful?

General, Technology, ,

With certain world events, our vocabulary is forever changed. The COVID epidemic has certainly been such an event. Starting with “COVID”, a word that none of us recognized 6 months ago, now has near 100% recognition. New words include “social distancing”, “zoom, “flatten the curve”, and “asymptomatic”. One new term—“doomscrolling”—has important mental and physical health significance.

What is “doomscrolling”?

This word was spotted on Twitter in late 2018, and then with COVID, it surged in popularity. Doomscrollilng has been defined as “as excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of unpleasant news”. Some more grim observers have described doomscrolling as “obsessively reading social media posts about how utterly [*****] we are”.  If you find yourself, first thing in the morning, or before bed, jumping from post to post or page to page of news about the coronavirus, maybe you are doomscrolling. 

Why is it happening?

Websites and even more—social media sites—have been engineered to keep you on their platforms as long as possible. They do this very well. Social media sites, in particular, have profiled you and know what will keep you glued to their site. Mesfin Bekalu, a research scientist at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health, notes that while a lot of the news is bad, “as humans we have a ‘natural’ tendency to pay more attention to negative news.”

Is doomscrolling necessarily harmful?

You might think that doomscrolling will harm your mental health—maybe precipitate depression—but it depends on the person. Some people, when presented with a string of bad news stories, are finally pushed to express their feelings. People who normally do not post or comment or talk to others on social media, are pushed to the point that they do. This can be a good thing. They see and connect with others going through the same anxieties and hardships. 

But some people are stimulated in an unhealthy way by doomscrolling. Some may become “trolls”. But in general, doomscrolling is not necessarily bad. For some people, doomscrolling can make them depressed, but others are pushed to talk about their feelings, making it more survivable. 

What if it is bad for me?

If you doomscroll at night, you might be seriously hurting your sleep. Look at this post for information about that. During COVID, you want to boost your immune system, and for that, you want good sleep. Looking at a screen before bed does not help.

Some online gurus say that if you doomscroll, the treatment is to limit your scrolling to a small amount of time per day. This might be ideal, and can try that, but another approach is to substitute some of the time you doomscrolled with something else. Have you ever listened to podcasts? If you have Spotify, you can access podasts there, or search for “podcasts” on Google. Even better than podcasts are audiobooks. This concept is still new in Brazil, but if you understand English, look at audible.com. Whatever you do, if you want to decrease your doomscrolling, find some other activity that is not so negative, that takes your attention away from this obsessive negative news scrolling. 

To find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, check out our website: www.ProcuraMed.com.

See also in ProcuraMed:

Young and old connect during quarantine and magic happens.

Safe kissing and other activities during COVID-19

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

Recommended doctors

This post is related to the specialties Infectious Disease, Psychiatry. Below is a list of some doctors related to these specialties.

SEE MORE DOCTORS