What is doomscrolling (and why should you avoid it)?

Doomscrolling means compulsively searching for bad news online – a habit that has escalated with the pandemic.The doomscrolling is an English neologism entered the Oxford Dictionary in 2020: the word indicates the tendency to look obsessively bad news online, scrolling ( scrolling ) on the screen of our phone (or tablet, or computer) to inform the misfortunes ( dooms ) that happen in the world.

A habit that has spread even more during the covid pandemic , when time and bad news were certainly not lacking, and which especially affected people who were already suffering from anxiety and depression. The World Economic Forum discussed this with Ariane Ling, a psychologist at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center of NYU Lanogone Health (USA).

BECAUSE WE ARE LOOKING FOR BAD NEWS.  Doomscrolling is a typically human practice. We are curious, and just as when we pass a traffic accident we slow down to see what happened, so it happens when we scroll through the news on our mobile: as soon as we come across a headline or a Facebook post tailored to get clicks (in English clickbait , or acchiappaclic in Italian), we stop and read it.

“Doomscrolling was already widespread before the pandemic, particularly among people suffering from anxiety and depression,” says Ling. In fact, due to the so-called confirmation bias , or the tendency to read only what is in line with our thinking, those suffering from depression usually search online for news that confirms their negative view of the world and life. And the pandemic, which has accentuated the psychophysical malaise , has certainly not helped people to give up this bad habit.


BETTER TO STOP: BUT HOW?  The first step to quitting, as in all addictions, is to recognize the existence of the problem: having the knowledge that you are obsessively looking for bad news online, you can decide to stop and dedicate yourself to something else. “You have to set limits,” says Ling, “give yourself permission to go through the news for half an hour in the morning, a few minutes in the afternoon, but no more.” And when you are tempted to pick up the phone, try replacing it with something else: “Reading, cooking, training: these are all healthier alternatives to doomscrolling.”

by Abdullah Sam
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