miJohnny Sayles wakes up early in the morning and flips through the news about thefall of human civilization.
Sayles, a former medical assistant in a Washington state surgical department, was fired in early April when the pandemic hit. Confined to his home by house arrest, he began to spend more timea reddit social speech, and collided/r/collapse, a part of the site where users discuss what many see as the inevitable collapse of globalized society.
Sayles says that /r/collapse has become part of his morning routine. "I just go on this subreddit and compare how the world was last week to this week," she says. “And every week there is something worse. It's depressing, but collapse is inevitable. It could be tomorrow, it could be 10 years from now. But our ecosystem is exhausted and there is still a lot of time."
One week in early October, the top posts on /r/collapse said the ice sheet in the Siberian Arctic was at its lowest point in recorded history, whichThe pandemic has killed more than 1 million people worldwide, and that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made more money in a second than the average person in a month. Someone below suggested thatThe United States is heading for a post-election civil war🇧🇷 "To be honest, it's only a matter of time," says the top comment. "Every empire falls. It can be fast or slow."
That sums up the world view of the subreddit, which has more than tripled in size in the last two years and now has more than 239,000 subscribers. (Like Reddit as a whole, which has about twice as many male users as female users, most of whom appear to be male.) Its content: a combination ofnewspaper headlines, memes and complaints: it is clearly addictive, at least for some people. It is full of hints of existential truth: that progress is a myth, thatCapitalism is already in decline, and theenvironmental disasterit can come much sooner than most people expect. Of course, this content can be very depressing. A suicide hotline will be prominently displayed on the front page along with a notice. "Overdoing this [reddit] sub can be detrimental to your mental health," she says. "Anxiety and depression are common responses when studying collapse."
For more information, see:Fear of climate change? You may have ecological anxiety
Before losing his job, Sayles supported thepresident trumpwho accepted the president's "Make America Great Again" message. But spending time on /r/collapse, combined with watching the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic, has led him to switch allegiances. WhenWildfires rage along the West Coast of the United StatesIn summer the smoke was so strong that he had to stay indoors for a week and a half. Homeless his age, in their twenties, they now sleep in the park next to his house. The price of bacon at your local store has doubled. She already voted by mail, not Trump.
For Sayles, the subreddit's warning about depression rings true. "I agree that it's bad for people's mental health," she says. "But I also think people need to wake up to the world around them. These dangers are real. It's impossible to deny these things anymore."
If Sayles' story sounds familiar to you, it's because it sounds familiar to so many of us. As the pandemic confined billions of people to their homes in 2020,the word "Doomscrolling" entered the lexicon, which refers to the temptation to compulsively scroll through social media platforms filled with apocalyptic news, and the difficulty of quitting despite feelings of fear and anxiety. There is no shortage of reasons to fear this year, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the US presidential election and protests against racial injustice. butSocial media platforms also play a crucial role, as they are designed to keep you scrolling and engaged for as long as possible. "As a species, we are programmed by nature to act first on threatening information," says Patrick Kennedy-Williams, a psychologist who treats the patients.Weather related fears🇧🇷 These evolving traits mean that the scariest content is often the most profitable for social platforms like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter. "Behind the screen are immobile algorithms designed to ensure that the most scandalous information gets our attention first," writes academic Julia Bell in her new book.radical attention."Because when we're angry, we get involved, and the more we get involved, the more money the platform can make from us."
In the last decade,Social media has changed the way we live our lives. Bypassing the traditional gatekeepers, these platforms have given ordinary people new ways to talk, from the Arab Spring uprisings of the early 2010s to the Swedish teenager's climate activism.Greta Thunbergat the end of the decade.
But psychologists who study the burgeoning field of social media addiction are also pointing to a darker side. Constantly facing evidence of systemic threats can foster negativity that can cause you anxiety or depression, and reduce your sense of individual agency. "There is something inherently harmful about a person's ability to respond to something when confronted via social media, because it is inherently global," Kennedy-Williams says. "There's not necessarily any way they can interact with the problem." That sense of paralysis is at the heart of the Doomsday Scroll. And she raises an important question: what good is raising awareness if the medium you use to do so inspires lethargy instead of action?
Burned homes and buildings in Santa Rosa, California, after a wildfire, photographed on September 28, 2020.
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Both users and /r/collapse moderators have spent a lot of time pondering this question. Some are already practicing the solution that Kennedy-Williams often suggests to its clients: opt out and work to resolve the issue locally. But for many it is not so easy. "The subreddit definitely triggered my anxiety at times," says Waleed_Compound, a regular user of the subreddit who lives in Santa Rosa, California, and who, like many users TIME spoke to, asked to be addressed only by his username. Username. He says he finds it easy to step away from his screen and has found solace in spending more time with his family and helping the homeless.
But the increasing frequency of severe wildfires in which it lives makes acceptance of climate breakdown inevitable. In 2018, the bonfire in and around the Northern California town of Paradise killed at least 85 people and emitted so much smoke that Waleed_Compound, who lives 100 miles away, had to stay indoors for two weeks. . Days before he spoke to TIME, embers from a wildfire northeast of Santa Rosa partially burned a store near his home. "The whole thing of breaking down and thinking about what might happen in the future doesn't make me too sad, apart from a little anxiety here and there," she says. “It's the things in the real world that really move me. Doom's scrolling is a sure thing. But it's nothing compared to what I actually saw."
While the subreddit has tripled in size in the past two years, moderators have noticed that its content has changed as well. With a bigger audience comes a bigger advertising opportunity. But where the subreddit used to be primarily a forum for discussing facts and news, today memes, alarming headlines, and polemics are the most popular topics. These are more appealing to a large audience, who accordingly "upvote" the posts to the top of the subreddit.
But the risk is that this content becomes so compelling that it causes fatal paralysis. "Any online forum that reaches a certain size encounters quality barriers and moderation difficulties because the nature of online discussion is such that content wants to rise to the top with little effort," says Mike Rezl, one of the subreddit's moderators. whose username is Lets TalkUFOs. That doesn't necessarily mean content that can be produced with little effort, he says. A funny meme can take a long time to create, but it only takes seconds to consume. In other words, as the subreddit got bigger, Doom scrolling got easier, which could make the subreddit more depressing.to reduceActing capacity of its most active users.
"I think the subreddit almost lost the battle," says one of /r/collapse's longest-serving moderators, who goes by the username Babbles. "Reddit, and the way people handle it, is not really conducive to productive conversations. And that goes for social media in general."
Babbles says that a few years agoWhen the subreddit was smaller, there was a joke about how new users tend to go through it.Five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is not a linear or pleasant process. Babbles jokes that many users, including himself, still seem to be going through the last three stages.
But as the subreddit grows, /r/collapse regulars must grapple with an important question: What does it mean to present such emotionally impactful ideas to large numbers of people in an environment as impersonal as Reddit? "It's helpful to have this information available to anyone looking for it," says James, a regular user from Australia, who asked to be called by his middle name to protect his online identity. “But is Reddit the best platform for this? Absolutely not. You can read something that completely shakes your view of the world and there is nothing that can bring you back.
For more information, see:Does social media make me unhappy?
Meanwhile, the moderators feel very responsible. In 2017, some users created their own sister subreddit to help people deal with anxiety related to meltdown, to which moderators often direct suicidal or self-deprecating comments. Still, the question weighs heavily on them. “We have to assume that there are countless people who are still lost, who we don't see, who fall into a deep depression, who don't come back because they couldn't handle the burden of this information,” he says. .
Like thisCoping with the loss of a loved oneit is a painful but ultimately necessary experience, which is why, many of the older users of /r/collapse believe, it is necessary for large numbers of people to come to terms with the idea that they may experience a civilizational collapse in their lifetime. But in a way, Doomscrolling is an obstacle to achieving that goal: users may find it easier to accept these ideas if they aren't paralyzed by algorithms that keep delivering more Doom. And as more people find the subreddit, the risk of doomsday scrolling increases. "The subreddit will continue to grow as systemic outages occur," says moderator Rezl. “So at any scale, we have to find a way to solve this. But there is no definitive solution. You can't have a million people talking in a room at the same time."
The subculture of collapseuses a term for what comes after grief: resilience. This is the idea that even if collapse is inevitable, there are ways, both individually and societally, to be prepared, both mentally and physically, for what lies ahead.
"We save this stuff, we study it, then we freak out and try to tell all our friends about it, and our friends don't want to know because it's depressing," says Babbles. "But then you move on and things open up for you. Many people are thinking about making fundamental changes to their lives: how they live, how they measure their own resilience in the face of whatever comes their way, and in some cases, even how they hope to navigate spiritually and existentially by this new reality. Knowledge."
For many of the subreddit's most active users, that means spending timediscord, a chat service similar to Slack, where it's easier to make human connections and where alarming content doesn't dominate the conversation as often. The official Discord server crash has around 880 users, many of whom are also active members of the subreddit. "I chose Discord because it's much more sensible," says James, the Australian user. "The problem I have with Reddit is the fact that it's based on a points system and the fact that you can see your score. There's a tremendous drive to generate content that gets upvotes, and that doesn't necessarily result in content that really useful."
It also prompted many users to make changes in their lives. James, who began reading the subreddit regularly thereafter.Devastating bushfires rage in AustraliaHe recently moved from Melbourne in 2019 and started experimenting with freelancing. He says that engaging with a community of like-minded people through Discord didn't get him down anymore, it was an affirming experience. Santa Rosa user Waleed_Compound says the same thing about helping the homeless in his community.
For more information, see:2020 is our last, best chance to save the planet
But while finding ways to protect their mental health, many users are also preparing to protect themselves and their loved ones from the worst. Waleed_Compound stored supplies of beans and rice, as well as weapons and ammunition. Sayles, the former Trump supporter, has been stocking up on groceries as the election approaches.
This behavior is known asprepare- Abbreviation of "preparation". Prep posts for /r/collapse are discouraged, and moderators redirect users with practical questions to the /r/preppers subreddit, which has 203,000 subscribers. But there is significant overlap between the two groups, who have similar approaches to dealing with what they see as an inevitable disaster in their own lives. Bradley Garrett, an ethnographer who studies the subculture, visited dozens of prep communities while doing research for his new book.Bunker: Buildings for the end times🇧🇷 While these communities are often portrayed as crazy in the media, Garrett says many of their arguments won him over. "If you accept the inevitability of the climate crisis, there are only two answers," he says. “Either you succumb to despair or you work to deal with it in some way. And if you feel you don't have the skills or ability to change our trajectory, then the only option is to build your resilience and adapt to those changes as they occur."
Garrett spent time preparing and came away with a Doomscrolling attitude similar to many of the more regular /r/collapse users. "I think there's some value in going offline, even if it just gives you more time to make local connections and build local resilience, because there will inevitably come a time when we need to trust each other," he says. "It is much more important than knowing that there is a catastrophe on the other side of the world."
But for Bell, the author ofradical attentionDisconnecting from social media just to focus on one's own survival is an extension of the core problem with how platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit are designed: scrolling to the ends of the world isolates us and takes the kind of collective action needed. to avoid the even more unlikely climate catastrophe. "It takes a lot of courage to say no, I'll do something about it," he says. "We forget what that means because we're encouraged to passively consume all of that stuff."
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Doomscrolling describes the act of compulsively scrolling through a social media feed to find the most current and relevant negative news, often for hours at a time.Why is it called doomscrolling? ›
Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.What are the stress factors of doomscrolling? ›
A German study of over 6,000 participants during the pandemic found a strong link between media consumption and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Similarly, an American study found that doomscrolling was strongly associated with anxiety, poor self-control, and the fear of missing out.What factors led to doomscrolling? ›
Doomscrolling may be caused by a variety of factors, such as anxiety, uncertainty, and lack of self-control. Moreover, social media algorithms are designed to engage you to keep scrolling, making it that much harder to turn away.How does doomscrolling affect mental health? ›
People who doomscroll can get sucked into a vicious cycle. Instead of tuning out, they become hooked and get further drawn in. It can lead to obsessive behaviours such as constantly checking for updates on news stories as a way of alleviating emotional distress.How do I stop doom thinking? ›
Try these 10 methods:
- Ask for a reality check. ...
- Get moving. ...
- Meditate on your thoughts. ...
- Reach for a slightly higher thought. ...
- Visualize it away. ...
- Focus on your breath. ...
- Look for a pattern. ...
- Change your environment—physical or digital.
"The doomscrolling habit has had a negative impact on mental health, triggering and worsening anxiety, stress, depression, panic, and rapidly impacting one's mental and neurological health that is triggered by being glued to the screen," said Dr Fabian Almeida, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan.Can Doom scrolling cause anxiety? ›
If you've had mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, it's also possible for doomscrolling to lead to panic attacks, one expert says.Does scrolling cause depression? ›
Studies have found that mindless social media scrolling is associated with depression in young adults.Why is doomscrolling addictive? ›
There have been numerous studies done on doomscrolling. It can easily be addictive because we're all looking for ways to feel safe during uncertain times. But many people do this at night before bed and it can disrupt sleep patterns, cause overeating and weaken the ability to process trauma.
Scrolling continuously is also harmful to mental health. The addictive quality can lead to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, anxiety, and depression. The constant bombardment of stories and images creates the illusion of endless possibilities, leading to a sense of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out).Can scrolling cause anxiety? ›
Additionally, scrolling can be stressful. It can cause anxiety if we're constantly comparing ourselves to others. The algorithm of the digital world is such that if you seek negative news, more related news will come to your feed. The more negative news you watch or read, the more depressive you will feel.Why do people mindlessly scroll through social media? ›
Mindless scrolling is when someone gets on social media – whether it be Twitter , Instagram or Facebook and starts scrolling through their feeds without even thinking about why they are doing it. A research study conducted by Penn State University said that mindless scrolling often happens from the fear of missing out.How do you recover from doomscrolling? ›
- Create a gratitude list. ...
- Spend time in nature. ...
- Surround yourself with people. ...
- Volunteer and give back to your community. ...
- Get creative.
Spawning from a sense of inadequacy about one's appearance or a perceived lack of achievements, anyone scrolling their phones for extended periods and misusing social media faces an elevated risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and suicide.What do you do in doomscrolling? ›
- Read uplifting newsletters. This is my current go-to. ...
- Scroll a happier feed. Social media can be a positive place to scroll, we just may need to do a little tweaking. ...
- Read something beautiful. ...
- Meditate. ...
- Make something. ...
- Answer these questions... ...
- Reach out to a loved one. ...
- Take action.
- childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect.
- social isolation or loneliness.
- experiencing discrimination and stigma, including racism.
- social disadvantage, poverty or debt.
- bereavement (losing someone close to you)
- severe or long-term stress.
- having a long-term physical health condition.
Usually, when we think of daydreaming, we think about imagining something. It could include replaying memories over and over in your head, thinking about your goals or interests, or imagining an unlikely or likely future scenario. Most of the time, we think of daydreaming as something that's voluntary.What does a feeling of doom feel like? ›
A sense of impending doom is a feeling of knowing that something life-threatening or tragic is about to occur. Certainly being in the midst of a life-threatening crisis may lead people to feel they may die1 , but this symptom may actually precede other obviously critical symptoms.Is overthinking psychotic? ›
Is overthinking a mental illness? No, overthinking isn't a recognized mental health condition, but it can be a symptom of depression or anxiety. Overthinking is commonly associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), says Duke. GAD is characterized by the tendency to worry excessively about several things.
Neglecting yourself and not taking care of your personal needs can be an anxiety trigger. Whether you're not showering regularly, skipping meals, staying up too late or not going to the doctor, it's important to evaluate these behaviors and work to take better care of yourself.How do I stop being doom and gloom? ›
Get some fresh air every day, and exercise both your body and mind. Maintain your regular sleep routine and avoid alcohol/drugs. You may need to make a decision to limit your exposure to the news if it is making you anxious. Check for an update once a day.Why do I feel my brain moving? ›
The effects of chronic stress, which we call hyperstimulation. Hyperstimulation can cause body-wide tremors and trembling symptoms, including causing the brain to feel like its vibrating. Brain zaps, brain shivers, head shocks, and head zaps feeling can have three main causes: Side effects of medication.Why do I feel a sense of doom for no reason? ›
Dread or an impending feeling of doom can be a symptom of anxiety. It can also be a symptom of depression, panic disorder, bipolar disorder, and health conditions including heart attack and some seizures.What disease has a symptom of impending doom? ›
People with bipolar disorder, depression, and panic disorder may experience a feeling of impending doom or find themselves upset and unable to rectify the feeling with an obvious explanation. What's more, some people experience a feeling of impending doom after a medical event.How long can impending doom last? ›
As your body recovers from the active stress response, this impending doom feeling should subside. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn't be a cause for concern.What is zombie scrolling? ›
Zombie Scrolling Syndrome is a term coined by the McAfee security company in 2016 to describe the effects of cell phone addiction. It's defined as “mindless scrolling out of habit, with no real destination or benefit.”Can depression permanently damage memory? ›
Is Depression Memory Loss Permanent? As discussed, depression is believed to affect short-term memory loss. When the underlying symptoms are treated, memory issues typically subside. A recent 2019 study found a potential way to reverse the memory loss linked to both depression and aging.What is a common trigger of depression? ›
It can occur for a variety of reasons and it has many different triggers. For some people, an upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries, can be the cause. Different causes can often combine to trigger depression.How do you break a scroll addiction? ›
- Understand Your Smartphone Habits. ...
- Recognize and Remove Triggers. ...
- Keep Track of Your Scrolling Time. ...
- Avoid Downloading Apps Across Multiple Devices. ...
- Leverage Phone Features That Restrict Usage. ...
- Keep Your Phone Out of Sight and Find Other Hobbies.
- Set Time Limits. It is vital that you break the habit of non-stop scrolling. ...
- Prepare Your Internet Search. ...
- Use Time-Limiting Apps. ...
- Seek Out Positive Stories Online. ...
- Engage in an Offline Hobby. ...
- Take a Mindful Social Media Break. ...
- Practice Meditation. ...
- Focus on the Positive.
Literally, the whole scrolling function is addictive. It's easy, and it keeps us in that “one more post” loop. Humans are curious at nature, and when you take away any work to sate our curiosity, it becomes addicting. The layout and colors are all meant to be addictive too.What symptoms does high anxiety cause? ›
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
- Having an increased heart rate.
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired.
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.
feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax. having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst. feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down. feeling like other people can see you're anxious and are looking at you.What is anxiety sensory overload? ›
Sensory overload is when your five senses — sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste — take in more information than your brain can process. When your brain is overwhelmed by this input, it enters fight, flight, or freeze mode in response to what feels like a crisis, making you feel unsafe or even panicky.What are three things that trigger your anxiety? ›
- physical or emotional abuse.
- losing a parent.
- being bullied or being socially excluded.
- experiencing racism.
- Indigestion. Anxiety can cause temporary or even chronic indigestion. ...
- Phantom ringing. Tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ears, can be a sign of stress or anxiety and can be experienced in several ways. ...
- Burning sensation. ...
- Heart irregularities. ...
- Physical numbness or tingling.
We determined that participants who described mindless scrolling or becoming completely absorbed in social media use, coupled by a loss of sense of time or self-awareness, were experiencing normative dissociation.What happens to your brain when you use social media? ›
Researchers believe that since social media competes for your attention with the promise of continuous new content, heavy social media users become less able to ignore distraction in general, which leads to poorer cognitive performance and shrinks parts of the brain associated with maintaining concentration.How does social media keep you hooked? ›
“Social media platforms drive surges of dopamine to the brain to keep consumers coming back over and over again. The shares, likes and comments on these platforms trigger the brain's reward center, resulting in a high similar to the one people feel when gambling or using drugs.”
If you want to stop doomscrolling, the obvious first step is to put your phone away, ideally in another room. But it can be surprisingly hard to untether from the endless fountain of information that is the Internet.How would you define doomscrolling? ›
Doomscrolling – sometimes also referred to as doomsurfing – is a phenomenon where you constantly scroll or surf through social media and other news sites in order to keep up with the latest news – even (and, it seems, particularly) if the news is bad.Why do people endlessly scroll social media? ›
When we scroll through our feeds switching between content so quickly, the brain gets a hit of dopamine each time, creating a sort of neurological 'high. ' It's that rush that keeps you scrolling through the content. It's the same as any addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, or slot machines.What does doomscrolling do to your brain? ›
"The doomscrolling habit has had a negative impact on mental health, triggering and worsening anxiety, stress, depression, panic, and rapidly impacting one's mental and neurological health that is triggered by being glued to the screen," said Dr Fabian Almeida, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan.What does doom watching mean? ›
noun. 1. surveillance of the environment to warn of and prevent harm to it from human factors such as pollution or overpopulation. 2. a watching for or prediction of impending disaster.How do you beat scrolling addiction? ›
- Understand Your Smartphone Habits. ...
- Recognize and Remove Triggers. ...
- Keep Track of Your Scrolling Time. ...
- Avoid Downloading Apps Across Multiple Devices. ...
- Leverage Phone Features That Restrict Usage. ...
- Keep Your Phone Out of Sight and Find Other Hobbies.
- Turn off notifications. For a start, you should turn off push notifications on social media apps. ...
- Set daily limits. ...
- Nightly wind down. ...
- Delete social media apps. ...
- Replace with helpful apps. ...
- Take time out.
Turns out, there's a good reason for the endless rabbit hole: it's called the dopamine loop. Dopamine is a chemical in our brains that's released after pleasure and reward-seeking behaviors—and it causes us to want them all over again. (Ever felt that post-exercise high?