Doomscrolling and How It Could Affect Your Mental Health

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Sometimes, we lie awake in bed at night, phone in hand while scrolling endlessly through our feeds. But do you ever wonder why clicking on negative headlines seems more enticing than watching a positivity video campaign? Doomscrolling, also called doomsurfing, is the term used for that feeling when you can’t stop reading news that you know will make you sad, anxious, or angry.

Clicking on negative headlines

Doomscrolling has often been related to the negativity bias, also called positive-negative asymmetry. More often than not, even journalists tend to write tragic news instead of good ones. Negative headlines pique readers’ curiosity, bringing bigger traffic to news websites. A study conducted has found that “news headlines containing negative language are significantly more likely to be clicked on.” The positive news is less likely to get clicked on, with more people preferring the bleaker articles.

Even during infancy stage, humans have been known to react stronger to negative stimuli. This may also be linked to our ancestors being exposed to everyday threat, making them more alert of any negative stimuli around them. “We inherited the genes that predispose us to give special attention to those negative aspects of our environments that could be harmful to us,” according to psychologist Timothy J. Bono.

Think about it — you can almost always pinpoint the exact moment you got sick or wounded but not when the wound healed. At work, we linger on bad feedback, even if the praise outweighs the negative reviews. Most likely, people remember the day their boss yelled at them more than the time they got praised by a report they delivered. The mind tends to remember bad memories better than good ones. This also explains why people cannot steer away from negative media, thus, the endless doomscrolling.

Take a break and relax

In this digital age, keeping up with current events has never been easier. With things being highly accessible, almost everything we need to know is at the tip of our fingers. While it’s advised to keep track of what’s happening around us, never compromise mental health for the sake of being in the know. Consuming negative media have effects on our overall health as it usually triggers anxiety and causes stress.

https://twitter.com/josemariapuerta/status/1245010221640138752

CDC suggested taking a break from news stories in order to cope with stress. Instead of scrolling through negative media, find other more fun activities to engage with. Take a walk in the park, or listen to calming music. As hard as it may be, try not to dwell on the negative things in life. Be wary of how much time we spend devouring negative news. The next time you hover your finger on a link to another negative news, think about your mental health and look the other way.

Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Christopher Isak with Midjourney for TechAcute.
Sources: Merriam Webster / Nature Human Behaviour / Catherine Moore (Positive Psychology) / Megan Kwok (Because Mental Health) / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Melanie Manguiat
Melanie Manguiat
Melanie has always been fascinated with storytellers, so she's trying to become one. When not working, she enjoys a little bit of everything that life has to offer.
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