We are coming off a year where there were all types of new and different words brought to our everyday lives: COVID. Pandemic. Social Distancing. Zoom. Just to name a few.
One catchy and recent favorite is DOOMSCROLLING ( AKA doom surfing ).
Doomscrolling is described by Wikipedia as, “The act of consuming a large quantity of negative online news all at once.” This act of falling into the digital rabbit hole is causing concern for mental health professionals. Don’t consider Wikipedia as a credible source? If you feel that Merriam-Webster (THE dictionary people) is a credible source, know that they are following this term for possible addition to the dictionary.
The Urban Dictionary offers this definition for Doomscrolling: “When you keep scrolling through all of your social media feeds, looking for the most recent upsetting news about the latest catastrophe. The amount of time spent doing this is directly proportional to how much worse you’re going to feel after you’re done.” Doomscrolling is very real and making a wave in nearly every aspect of society.
Stories of Coronavirus despair, racial injustice, the negative impact of online schooling, governmental unrest — all with conflicting reports — have plugged our social media channels with no end in sight. In a wired.com article about this new digital-downer, Mesfin Bekalu, a research scientist at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health notes, “that while a lot of the news is bad, as humans we have a ‘natural’ tendency to pay more attention to negative news.” (https://www.wired.com/story/stop-doomscrolling/)
The effects of hyper-consumption of negative information are not really a new thing. Since the 1970s, people have started to believe the world is a more dangerous place than it is in reality because the media adopted a more aggressive and opinion-based reporting style. Sensationalized reporting has become the norm. The media offers more of these powerful reports around rating periods to boost listenership / readership / viewership. TV took the blame back then for the mental issues resulting from this overexposure to violent content. Today, our electronic devices are the primary culprit.
While social media has helped people stay connected during these unprecedented times, conversely this vicious cycle of negativity can be draining.
This endless stream of bad news affects everything in life — our jobs, our family, our relationships, our hopes, dreams (literally), and beliefs. The overarching impact is that you may feel more anxious and full of doom and gloom.
There’s a fine line between being INFORMED and being OVERWHELMED.
Increased screentime coupled with the onset of remote work environments has impacted two things in the workplace. One, employers may not be getting all the time they pay for. And two, employees are feeling emotions ranging from isolation and anxiety to hopelessness and fear.
Leaders need to understand these very real feelings and address the issues they may manifest. Reach out to your team and openly discuss these issues without judgment or criticism. (In fact, as a team leader, you may also be a victim of this phenomenon.)
Here are a few things you can do for yourself and suggest to your employees to help limit the negative exposure:
SET A TIMER – Of course, it’s important to be informed of what’s happening around you but limit your negative news consumption. Find out what you need to know and then turn your electronic device off or move on to a new task.
REALIZE A GOAL – If you are online to find out current COVID numbers in your county, stay focused. Get only the specific information you need and move on to the next task.
TURN BAD TO GOOD – You really don’t need to quit going online. Just try to change the scope of your view from discovering the bad, to initiating some good. Video chat with a friend. Order a pizza. Shop for a gift. Find good things to post and share the good vibes. Turn your habit of needing to be connected into something positive. Steer clear of un-positive data mining, especially before bed.
UNDERSTAND HUMAN NATURE – The internet is full of lies, exaggerations, and opinions. People tend to repost negative banter at a faster pace than they will repost something positive. Many who post either want you “on their side”, or act in a way to educate you about their opinions.
So, what can you do to end this habit of bad-news bingeing? Journaling.
Instead of lying in bed each night absorbing the endless banter that causes you to lose sleep, turn off your electronic devices and write down what you think, feel, worry about, etc. Also, ask yourself and record areas in your life you’re grateful for. Think about those who are important to you and write down why. Set goals. Be creative. Doodle. Use different color pens and pencils. There’s no right or wrong way to journal. Once you establish this practice, you’ll find that your writings will take you to where you need to go. It’s like a salve for your soul. You — and ONLY you — can control the healing.
We feel so strongly about this activity that we have designed our own journal.
If you are not currently journaling, contact us and we’ll send you the one we use to get you started. Click here to get your FREE journal