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  • Writer's pictureCyberlite

The Doomscrolling Dilemma: Finding Balance in a Crisis-Filled World


What is doomscrolling?
What is doomscrolling?

Have you ever found yourself sucked into an endless social media vortex, consuming a firehose of bad news story after bad news story? Maybe you started by checking the day's headlines but then, almost unconsciously, the hours sped by in a blur as feed after feed filled your brain with upsetting information until you eventually emerged into the real world feeling exhausted, anxious, and overwhelmed.


If this scenario sounds brutally familiar, you've experienced the modern phenomenon known as "doomscrolling" - the compulsive act of consuming anendless stream of negative news or social media discussions, often to the detriment of your own mental health and productivity.


What is Doomscrolling? What Fuels the Doomscroll Spiral?


In our hyper-connected world of round-the-clock news and viral sharing, we now have constant access to a never-ending flow of negative information - every crisis, tragedy, and hot take just a tap away. While an awareness of major events is important, our brains can easily become hooked on the onslaught of emotional stimulation and panic-inducing headlines, almost like an addiction.


There are a few key forces that can fuel this doomscroll spiral:


  • Social Validation - Likes, comments and shares on negative posts provide socially-reinforcing feedback loops that keep us engaged.

  • Negativity Bias - Evolutionary psychology has hardwired our brains to prioritize negative information as a survival mechanism, making upsetting content hyper-engaging.

  • FOMO - Fear of missing out on being up-to-date on vital information makes it tempting to obsessively keep scrolling.

  • Lack of Control - Consuming bytes of bad news provides an avoidance outlet for things we feel helpless to change in the real world.


Doomscrolling Consequences


While it may seem harmless enough, excessive doomscrolling can have significant mental, emotional and productivity consequences, especially in already overwhelming times. Potential effects include:


  • Increased anxiety and depression

  • Unhealthy coping mechanisms like addiction or avoidance

  • Cynical, pessimistic worldview 

  • Distortion of risk perception and propensity for catastrophic thinking

  • Poor sleep, difficulty focusing, and information overload

  • Fractured interpersonal relationships due to preoccupation

  • General sense of hopelessness and burnout


So how can we regain control and find a healthier balance when it comes to consuming negative news and content? While there's no one-size-fits-all solution, these tips can help:


  1. Set Limits and Boundaries - Dedicate specific short time windows for news consumption rather than endless grazing. Use website blockers or app limits as needed.

  2. Check Your Motivations - If doomscrolling is driven by morbid curiosity or procrastination, explore healthier coping strategies and priorities. 

  3. Follow Reputable Sources - Stick to a few trusted national or global news sources rather than getting lost in social media black holes.

  4. Fact-Check Everything - Slow down and verify any shocking claims or stories against authoritative data before integrating upsetting narratives.

  5. Offset with Positives - For every negative story consumed, consciously "palette cleanse" with uplifting content that renews perspective.  

  6. Adjust Social Feeds - Mute toxic accounts and hashtags that exacerbate anxiety. Proactively follow uplifting creators and communities.

  7. Ground Yourself - When you feel anxiety and obsession creeping in, pause for mini-mindfulness routines to re-center your consumption motivations.


Ultimately, being an informed digital citizen doesn't require marinating in a constant feed of negative news and posts. We have to be intentional about balancing vital information intake with our long-term mental and emotional wellbeing. Striking that equilibrium is an ongoing challenge, but preventing the doomscroll spiral is a battle worth waging for our healthier selves.

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