Do you find yourself inexplicably drawn to negative news articles and websites full of doom and gloom? Do you frequently get sucked into an endless cycle of clicking from one depressing social media post to the next?
If you regularly find yourself obsessively scrolling through the never-ending stream of the 24-hour news cycle, or the continuous feed on content sharing platforms, completely enthralled in the details of tragedies and disasters, then you are not alone. Most of us spent a good proportion of 2020, through the long days of social isolation during the lockdown, engaged in the act of doomscrolling, and for some, the habit has continued.
But what is it exactly and why do we do it?
Doomscrolling, or doom-surfing, is an expression first coined by finance reporter Karen Ho in October 2018 and according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary refers to “the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.”
As humans we are programmed to look out for danger, to be prepared for what is coming next; this is so we can protect ourselves and those we love. When times are difficult and people are struggling, getting as much information as possible by searching news sites and social media feeds feels helpful because it provides us with a sense of control.
We’ve all heard the old cliché; good news doesn’t sell. We have an inbuilt propensity to react more to negative news, and media outlets are aware of this, shock and horror headlines sell newspapers. In today’s modern technological world, they use what is referred to as “clickbait,” captions that grab the attention and get viewers to click on the link to their web pages.
Combine this with the algorithms used by social media websites, which are designed to keep visitors logged on for as long and as much as possible, it makes doomscrolling almost inescapable. Unfortunately, it is not a very healthy way to spend our free time; and could in fact be doing us some serious harm.
The answer is doomscrolling has a negative impact on our mental health, it generates stress and fear, and raises anxiety and depression. For those already vulnerable to these mental health conditions – and others such as alcoholism, drug abuse and addictive behaviours – it can trigger episodes and become obsessive or a compulsion.
Alongside the fact that hours are spent wasted falling into a rabbit hole of endless scrolling, studies have shown that any use of social media can have a damaging influence on the way we feel, both about ourselves and the world we live in, increasing isolation and loneliness and causing us to make (often unfavourable) comparisons with others.
In the long-term, the continued worry about the impending doom, or the stress about all the awful things that are happening in the world is terrible for our emotional and psychological wellbeing. We are not designed to be constantly engaging with negative information; doing so leaves us feeling fearful, fatigued and continuously on-edge – the perfect recipe for a mental health breakdown.
Here at the luxury residential rehab centre in Ibiza, we have a team of highly qualified staff that are experienced in a range of therapies specifically for the treatment of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and burnout.
We also treat substance (drugs and alcohol) and process (gambling and sex) addictions; and disorders such as codependency and OCD. We offer both EMDR therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on-site, and equine-assisted psychotherapy is part of our wider treatment program.
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