Doomscrolling is the obsessive intake of bad news, even when it creates anxiety and worry. Despite knowing how it makes you feel, you just can’t seem to stop yourself from consuming this toxic information.
Finance reporter Karen Ho originally discovered the term on Twitter, and it turns out that there are good reasons why we are so likely to fall into the destructive habit.
Media psychologist Pamela Rutledge explains: “The tendency to doomscroll is a result of how the human brain is wired. Our brains instinctively pay attention to any potentially dangerous situation as part of the biological imperative of survival. Our brains are designed to constantly scan the horizon for potential threats. Since threats are more important to our survival than other information, we pay more attention to the negative information than to the positive.
When there are no answers or conflicting answers, more information doesn’t increase our sense of safety, so we scroll in pursuit of better answers, and so on.”
It’s a seemingly never-ending cycle of negativity and unhappiness.
Mike Brooks, co-author of Tech Generation: has this to say about doomscrolling. “Fifty thousand years ago, when we were on a savannah, if we missed the bad news that there was a pride of lions stalking a watering hole, we could have been eaten. But if we missed the good news that a tree nearby was bearing fruit, we likely would have lived to see another day.”
So, if you’ve been consumed by doomscrolling, don’t feel bad. You’re certainly not alone. It’s human nature to pay attention to new information, especially if that information might help us respond to danger and ultimately, survive.
But the truth is, in today’s times, doomscrolling isn’t just unhealthy, it can lead to missed deadlines, incomplete tasks, and cost you valuable time that should be spent with friends and family.
The habit also isn’t an easy one to break, especially if you have a mobile device and are used to consuming news throughout the day via apps or favorite websites.
But thankfully, there are things you can do to quickly replace this toxic habit with ones that will add value to your life and improve your mindset.
Before we get to that, let’s take a closer look at how doomscrolling may be impacting your daily life in ways you may not even be aware of.