On the issue of doom-scrolling (and preserving our emotional well-being)
Questions, ideas, & a coaching update
Is it doom-scrolling, doom surfing, social media panic, or disasterbation?
It's all the above.
WHAT IS IT?
Doom-scrolling is the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news. Go deeper on Wiki.
Let's face it, we've all succumbed to it many times just in the past two years alone. Remember 9/11?
Iraq & Afghanistan 2003?
Pandemic engulfing our society in 2020?
George Floyd uprising?
All publicized murders of innocent black men and women?
The 2020 election?
Jan 6 insurrection?
This new war that Russia is waging?
You get the idea. Beyond the content there were also opinions and emotions flooding our shared internet commons. Ok, so now you know what disasterbation is...
Let's take a deep breath...
WHY DO WE DO IT?
“People doom scroll for many different reasons, the main reason is as a way of feeling in control in a world that feels so out of control all the time.” - Tess Brigham, MFT
There are too many reasons to list in this piece and plenty of scientific & psychological reasons as to why, let's take a mild existential look for the moment..
We're social mammals that came from smaller forager communities and villages if you consider pre-industrial and pre-agrarian times. With that said, we just did not evolve to consume and absorb this much news and information. Now when we just consider "negative" news, subjectively and objectively speaking, then what does that do to us individually and societally?
Another quick metaphor to understand why we doom scroll: traffic accidents. When you're on the motorway / highway and there's an accident ahead and every car in front of you slows down to see and gauge the severity of the incident. We all do this. Remember our ancestors had to flee from predatory animals, other plagues, natural disasters, etc.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Here's where our individual experiences inform how we cope with stress. There is no one antidote to disasterbation, so let's start with the most pragmatic prompt -- STOP.
How do I stop doom surfing?
Notice what's happening. From an emotionally intelligent perspective, let's notice that we're in a stressful state because our heart rate is up, we feel frozen, we can't stop feeding on the content, we need to FEEL informed by consuming more. If we can notice ourselves activating our sympathetic nervous system (fight / flight) then we can divert and change course.
Act. Hit eject. Put the phone down. Take a breath. Feel the emotion you've just elicited for yourself. Do it with catharsis if that helps. Scream, stomp, punch a pillow (I hit my carseat sometimes), and disengage.
Resolve. Phone a friend or trusted person. Take a walk. Drink water. Eat a piece of chocolate. Divert to a self-care ritual. Move your body. Talk it out. Seek out a pattern-interrupt (hello nature) and find your way to process the experience. Talk to a coach (I'm happy to speak with you here). Talk to your therapist. Put something tangible in your hands, like a cup of tea or coffee, a crystal, a stress stone, a lucky object, a musical instrument. Do what you would do to engage your parasympathetic system (rest, calm, relax).
Take everything you've read with a grain of salt.
You are the expert on you.
Contact your mental health professional.
We're all riding this wave together.
Remember that these prompts are not invitations to neglect what's going on.
Doomscrolling does not equate being informed.
Recently got to coach the team at Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) consulting on tech / life balance strategies that encompass emotional well-being & digital wellness.
As teams go remote it’s imperative that we identify and consider how to maintain a tech / life balance that supports everyone. Remember that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions & no issue is too big or small to address.
Let’s discuss together what that could look like for your organization / remote team.