Some Thoughts On ‘Doom Scrolling’

Photo by Kym MacKinnon on Unsplash

Ever found yourself scrolling through the news or social media on your phone looking at nothing but negative and depressing stories? I certainly know I have. So if you are anything like me, you have fallen into the trap of ‘Doom Scrolling’. What’s that all about then?

Doom and gloom

To be fair there has not been a whole lot of positive news in the last two years. With Covid and now the war in Ukraine, the news cycle has been dominated by a lot, and I mean a lot of negative stories. These stories produced then get recycled, fused, confused and generally spread across all social media channels.

Often the one story can be spun a thousand different ways by a thousand different viewpoints. Though they always seem to share the two main ingredients; ‘doom’ and ‘gloom’. For some reason this is what sells, this is what everyone appears to want to read. It’s no wonder we can feel overwhelmed and so utterly depressed with it all sometimes.

So why the fascination, why do we do it? We know its not got for us. We know we don’t really get anything out of it, so why do we even go there? 

Understanding

As someone who really struggled with anxiety I can kind of understand why We do it. Rather than actively looking for doom and gloom we are in fact looking for a glimmer of hope. We are looking for something to indicate that in the end everything is going to be ok. And it is that that can make this whole thing so depressing and anxiety producing.

The fact is more often than not we don’t find what we are looking for. Yet so much do we want to find it, we keep on looking and looking. The less we find it, the more depressed and anxious we get. This desire for hope can lead to a pretty vicious circle.

This is exactly what I struggled with when anxiety was in control of my life. 

The amazing thing is despite all I have been through. All the things I have learnt about myself, my anxiety and how to bring it under control, I still do it. I know exactly what I am doing and where it is going to lead. The rational me knows that the chances of finding that elusive kernel of hope in all this tragedy will be a very long time in coming. Yet the emotional me carries on regardless. 

So what’s going on?

Why? I think part of it is our collective response to what is both a highly tragic and emotionally charged situation. We may feel helpless or hopeless so in this little act we may feel like we are doing something. It also can help us make sense of what is going on, so dominant and overwhelming is the situation on all media channels.

It is also the human thing to do. We care, we feel for the plight of those suffering. We also may be afraid, afraid of what this may usher in and what the future consequences of this will be. 

It is ok and completely understandable to feel like this. Many of us are feeling the same way, which means you are not alone. We may find it difficult to put down that phone, to stop the scrolling. We may even find ourselves feeling guilty if we do stop. Again this is ok. Over time and with determination we can manage our behaviour.

Observe how it is affecting our mood and decide how much time we really want to devote to it going forward. This is in our power. To really unlock that power we need to understand what is driving us. Once we do that, making the choice becomes easier.

Change

Unfortunately there is very little we can do about the current situation in Ukraine. We can help out as much as we can, yes but there are so many things that will happen where none of us will have any control. Yet what we do have control over is how we react to it, how we allow it to affect us.

Though it can be difficult sometimes we can do it. It just takes thought and effort. Yet we can start with  simple things, such  as instead of doom scrolling speaking to someone we trust about how we feel? Or writing down our feelings in a journal?

It does not take a lot, a little change here or there can put us on a track to a more positive place. I know it is something I am determined to try over the next few days and weeks. How about you?

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