The Dire Effects of Doomscrolling and How to Escape It

We are all guilty of the mandatory social media scroll right before bed to check up on what we missed before hitting the sack. Next thing you know, what was supposedly meant to be just ten minutes has ended up being a full three hours and the sun has begun peeking through the horizons outside your bedroom window. If this sounds like something you would do, then you are caught up in the intrusive effects of doomscrolling.

What on earth is doom scrolling?

Described as ‘an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of dystopian news’, doomscrolling has disrupted the days and nights of digital natives. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the time people have spent at home has forced many to divert their excess time and energy to their mobile devices. Many also use social media to stay updated with the latest news and trends. 

How did it become more prevalent now?

Black Lives Matter Protest in Washington D.C.
Clay Banks/Unsplash

With the help of technology, doomscrolling has unfortunately become a staple in this ‘new normal’, using it as a substitute for other activities that individuals used to do outside of their homes. 

Every day, new stay-home notices from the city government or updates on the progression of the pandemic and vaccines constantly keep people on their toes. Apart from COVID-19, the rise of political discussions surrounding social movements including Black Live Matters in the United States has caused an uproar all over the world. In order to keep the movement alive, social media has been an incredibly vital tool in informing and educating people in all corners of the world. 

While there is nothing wrong with staying updated with the news and everything that is going on across the globe, we still need to take a step back from the information overload. But how do you limit yourself to prevent falling deeper with every scroll? 

Doomscrolling and COVID-19

Sukhothai Thailand street market amid the dreaded COVID-19
Robert Norton/Unsplash

The effects of doomscrolling during the pandemic has made us physically and socially distant, disarming us with the human survival instincts that we’ve learned throughout the years. While it is unfortunate that our time with friends and family has been limited due to safe-distancing measures, interacting with others physically has become somewhat of a chore. We have become so accustomed to interacting with others from a distance and through our screens that meeting them face-to-face has become tiresome and physically and mentally draining at times.

Technology and social media are addictive by design, and its ability to generate infinite and continuous content is created in such a way where our attention doesn’t divert to anything else. Doomscrolling lets you get lost in an infinite scroll through the web subconsciously, letting you lose track of the time that was previously used when people were still able to go out freely.

The limited use of social awareness has also hindered many emotionally, hence, having them seek emotional validity online. This pandemic has left many people vulnerable, leading us to scroll through the endless listings on social media to validate ourselves from the thought of being alone. 

How to escape the effects of doomscrolling

People using their phones during the commute
Camilo Jimenez/Unsplash

So, how do you free yourself from the grasp of doomscrolling? For a start, being more conscious with your social media consumption is highly effective. You don’t have to stop using your devices completely, but keep track of your screen time to help limit your device usage. Downloading an app or adjusting your settings to create a reminder could also be just what you need to snap out of it and get back to reality.

To keep your mental health in check, taking a break from social media and switching off your devices from time to time will give you more room to readjust to your previous cognitive state. Try turning off your data or WiFi when you head off to run errands or catch up with your friends and family. If you’re feeling more comfortable, you could also leave your devices behind to take a short social media detox. 

Being disconnected from your devices can be difficult, given that you have spent a whole year with it in your reach and grasp. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Remember to separate yourself from your devices at your own pace, and at your own time.

 

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