What is doom-scrolling (and why can’t we stop doing it?)

It is well documented how bad overexposure to social media can be for your mental health. If you are a parent, you might even have looked up long enough from your Facebook newsfeed to warn your kids about the dangers of TikTok.

(Hopefully) We all know how treacherous the internet can be, with fake news and conspiracy theories running rampant across newsfeeds and ever-learning, algorithms keeping track of every click and view subtly trapping you in an echo chamber of your own bias.

Now enter the new bad guy on the block: Doom-scrolling.

Thanks to infinite scroll technology (the web design capability that allows you to keep scrolling down on a website to get more content instead of having to page through to separate pages for new stories) its easier than ever to disappear down a rabbit hole of internet content that might not be very good for your mental health.

What do the experts say?

According to psychologists, infinitely scrolling through online content, and in particular, through online news sites, might make us feel slightly better in the short term, than simply fiddling around on the traditional social media sites, stalking our high school crushes.

Scrolling for hours on end through news sites, even if the sources are accredited and trusted, doesn’t feel as lazy or self-indulgent as watching 27 YouTube fail compilations does. It feels like you are taking charge and actively choosing to stay informed.

 

However, this feigned quest for knowledge we trick ourselves into embarking on, has a serious downside.

 

Due to the aforementioned algorithms, and the nature of news reporting (bad news sells), chances are slim of you getting a balanced diet of news articles from your phone.

In all likelihood, by the third or forth article you are in serious danger of causing yourself emotional distress.

According to an article published by the Cleveland Clinic, psychologist Susan Albers explains that constantly scrolling on your phone has very little to do with being informed. Something darker is usually at play.

 

“If you’re depressed, you often look for information that can confirm how you feel,”

 

It’s a situation where your own negative feelings are validated by the incessant stream of negativity flowing through your phone.

 

“If you’re feeling negative, then reading negative news reconfirms how you feel.”

This validation is highly addictive.