By Tova Shmulewitz, Staff Writer
2020 has been a year full of negative news, including but not limited to the obvious, and ever-present, negativity in the press surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. People have gone as far as to create websites dedicated to listing negative events that have happened in the world this year, including the unfortunate and untimely deaths of Kobe Bryant and Chadwick Boseman. People have often found themselves scrolling, what is referred to as “doomscrolling,” for hours on end, engrossing themselves in this type of bleak media.
While the concept of doomscrolling is not a new one, the increasing amount of time people have spent doing it throughout this year has led to it becoming a popularized word in today’s lingo. But what exactly does this word mean?
Doomscrolling refers to excessive time spent scrolling through bad or depressing news. Reading article after article about COVID-19 every day or scrolling through social media to find out what else has gone wrong this year are all forms of doomscrolling. This practice has been proven to have a negative impact on mental as well as physical health. In an experiment done in the 1990s, a group of individuals were split up and shown either optimistic, pessimistic, or neutral news. Those who had watched the pessimistic news became more worrisome about matters not just pertaining to the news they had just watched, but also about personal matters as well. Today, it is not just one piece of bad news, but rather a steady stream of depressing headlines. Needless to say, this will not have a positive effect on people’s mental health.
Unfortunately, this is an unsolvable anxiety-inducing problem, as staying informed during these times means absorbing an abundance of bad news. However, there are ways to limit exposure. A few of these methods have been outlined by Amelia Aldoa, clinical psychologist. Some of these include setting timers on apps or websites to limit the amount of exposure time or looking up positive things while also staying up-to-date on more unflattering daily news. Other methods include limiting yourself to check the news once a day, or reading full articles instead of just scrolling through attention grabbing, dramatic headlines which are more likely to be more negative. Using these methods can help you stay informed, but in the healthiest way possible.