Let’s face it, it has been a long time since there has been a lull from bad news. First came the first COVID wave. Once that ended came a ferocious second one, which sent many scrambling for hospital beds, medical oxygen, and even wood for cremation. As that finally ended, there are apprehensions around the impending third wave, more so since COVID cases in Kerala have picked up. As the southern state is battling with the coronavirus, the Nipah virus has made an appearance. If that isn’t enough, more than 50 have died of a mysterious fever in Mathura, a city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
When there is so much going on around us, we tend to seek as much information as possible. We go to news websites, news channels, and most importantly social media to get a clearer picture of what is actually happening. And when there is so much uncertainty around, this can lead to doomscrolling.
(Photo Credit: Freepik)
As the name suggests, doomscrolling comprises two words -- doom and scrolling, i.e. scrolling about doom. More simply, doomscrolling is when you read one negative news after another. And when you consume such news on social media, the algorithms of these platforms work to add up to your feeling of doom.
It is not that nothing good is happening around. Indian athletes performed phenomenally well at the just-concluded Paralympics, but the human mind is such that it tends to get attracted to the bad news. And it is a never-ending thing. You get over one thing and another bad thing is just one click away. And understandably, this tends to have implications on our mental health.
How Doomscrolling Affects Mental Health
(Photo Credit: Freepik)
Doomscolling affects mental health in the following ways:
- It tends to make you anxious. Worse, it can even make you feel depressed.
- It can be mentally draining.
- It can cause FOMO (fear of missing out).
- Most importantly, it is a mindless activity that robs you of the present moment and sends you on a never-ending chain of thoughts. You get so stuck in your head that you are unable to watch your thoughts or how that negative news is impacting you.
Why Do We Doomscroll Despite Such Negative Effects?
There are reasons why we doomscroll despite its negative effects. In an uncertain world, we seek certainty. And when so much goes around us, we try to get it by getting as much information as we can. It is, in a way, how we evolved. Our forefathers needed it for security from predators. Although we live in a world that is much more secured, it seems we need the same sense of security as our predecessors did.
How To Cope If Doomscrolling Is Making You Anxious?
First and foremost, care about your mental health and limit your news intake if that is making you anxious. Here are some other coping tips:
- Stay away from sensational news. Go to trusted news sites that you know cover news in a fair and balanced manner.
- Understand, you don’t have to consume every news article floating on news sites and social media platforms. Just watching a news show or going through the headlines, and reading what is needed, are enough.
- Set a time limit. Gladly, phones have the feature to tell you how much time you spent on a particular app.
- When it gets overwhelming, just stop. Either start reading or watching something else or better, switch off your phone for some time.
- Try to use social media for your well-being. Watch a stand-up comedy, or read a light-hearted article, whatever you like.
It’s important to know that social media and news are not all bad. They keep you informed. However, it’s for you to know when to stop. So use the tools wisely.
Read more articles on Mind and Body