Ready for a new pandemic? Meet Doomscrolling.
While Doomscrolling kinda sounds like something that you’d airbrush on the side of a windowless van next to a barbarian with a sword, it’s not at all as kick awesome as it may sound.
Doomscrolling is the act of actively searching for news, details, stories, or any scrap of information that explains just how terrible things are. It’s happening so much more since the COVID pandemic started and it’s hurting us all.
COVID, natural disasters, murder hornets, police brutality and racial divides, oh, and it’s an election year…just a few reasons why Twitter’s daily use numbers have gone up 24% and Facebook’s 27% since the start of the pandemic and it’s very unhealthy.
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a clinical psychologist and author of “Joy from Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend,” recently said the following;
“Many people think that they’ll feel safer by staying abreast of the latest news. Yet, they don’t realize that consumption of negative news only leads to greater fear, anxiety, and stress.”
A Second Opinion
There are some benefits, however, as some have reported. Some feel that they are more informed about current events and issues than before and actually see it as a positive.
They see it as a welcome distraction or a way to motivate themselves to become active in the world around them and try to lend their voices to make a difference.
So is there a way to stay informed without all the doom and gloom?
It seems that there are only two options: either doomscroll your way into depression or avoid the news altogether, making yourself uninformed and most susceptible to the dangers that really do exist.
But if you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that that’s what we call a “false dichotomy. There are more than two options to combat depression, anxiety, and increasing negativity.
Avoiding the Negativity of Social Media
We have to figure out how to stay informed, motivated, and engaged in the public forum without searching out the dark clouds of negativity all the time. We at least have to figure out a way to regulate it. So here are some suggestions I found:
Take planned Social media breaks
There are multiple apps to help you set timers for social media. I know when I go on TikTok, it’s really crazy how those 10 minutes of watching 15-second clips turn into 3 hours…
Set time aside in your day that you won’t be accessing social media or Doomscrolling and turn off notifications for social media when you’re working.
Use the unfollow, hide, and mute functions
We all have people we are friends with or that we follow that can be toxic on certain subjects. Don’t let their constant negativity become the norm. As soon as you either agree with them or try to argue with them, most algorithms think “oh hey, they like seeing and talking to this person.” So you’ll see more of them…which is bad.
So just mute, snooze, hide, or unfollow them for a season if you’re not ready to break up with them for real real. Your timeline feed will become a much more positive and enjoyable place, I promise.
Designate a Sabbath day, even if you work in social
I work on social media. You work on social media. And much like New York City, social media never sleeps.
But you have to.
You need a Sabbath day of rest from social, so I’m calling for something radical: let’s all designate one day a week where we don’t open up social media apps or spend any time scrolling.
Get a hobby, read a book, draw a picture, I don’t care! Let’s just do something else for that day and make sure that we practice Sabbath rest from our work, including our work on social media. Because here’s a truth no social media guru or boss is going to tell you:
If you don’t post for one day a week on your social media accounts no one will miss you.
Sorry, that sounds harsher than I meant it, but it’s not going to throw off the algorithm so much that no one will see what you post to miss one day. No one sees it anyway, amiright? Algorithms, amiright? OK, done with this one, but I hope you get it. You have permission to take a day off from social. Your people might actually appreciate it.
Delete time-wasting apps from your phone
I recently deleted Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok from my phone. Of course, I re-downloaded TikTok before the government bans it, but I’ve set time limits on the app. We think that we will go crazy without these apps on our phones, but honestly, in a week of not having them here are my stats:
- My screen time is down 29%
- I’ve knocked out more projects for work than in the previous two weeks combined
- I am happier and in better spirits than before
- I’ve gotten more involved in helping my kids with their distance-learning school work, which has been tough on them.
Overall, I haven’t really missed it. I have noticed myself going for my phone just as much, but I don’t spend nearly the time on it. Baby steps.
Besides, it’s not like I don’t have access to Facebook and Twitter on my desktop.
Game the algorithm
Speaking of ol’ Al, let’s game that sucker and make it work for us for a change!
Start intentionally liking, sharing, or commenting on things that you smile at, laugh at, or enjoy every time you’re on social media. Set a goal of engaging like this with at least 10 posts each time and the algorithm will start to show you more of that sort of thing.
The social media algorithms are computers; they only do what you tell them to do. So tell them to cheer up by liking some cute puppy stuff or babies laughing. Lord knows we could use more videos of babies laughing.
Set a bedtime alarm for yourself to turn off social
I need these kinds of crutches in my life to build disciplines. When the social media alarm goes off, put your phone on the charger and commit to either going to bed or doing something else until you do.
Setting healthy boundaries is going to be something we have to do ourselves. The big tech companies may give you a way to check your screen time, but they’re not going to work too hard to help you limit it. That’s how they make their money, after all.
What boundaries have you set? What are you doing lately to contribute to your own mental health and general positivity?
If you would like to read more about Doomscrolling and how to combat it, I read these articles for research for this blog that you may also find helpful. Thanks for reading!
Seth has been in ministry for over 20 years, recently serving as Communications Director at a thriving church in North Dallas. He is also the host of The Seminary of Hard Knocks podcast, blogs at sethmuse.com, and has his Masters of Arts in Media and Communications from Dallas Theological Seminary. Seth specializes in helping church communicators use social media and content marketing to find common ground with their audience to empower them for spiritual growth.