Have you ever snapped out of a scrolling vortex with no sense of who you are or what year it is? How about getting stuck in a loop of reading anxiety-inducing headlines, being struck by the body invaders and feeling literally unable to stop? Sounds like you’re heading for news burnout.
That’s the weird thing about technology - at its best it can make you feel safe, calm and connected, and at its worst it makes you feel the exact opposite.
It’s also totally torpedoed how we consume news and current affairs. Gone are the cute, cosy days of yesteryear where people would find out what’s going on in the world in an orderly fashion via the television at 6pm sharp. They’d get up to speed, then switch it off and continue on with their lives, with the gift of compartmentalisation to help keep them sane. Nowadays we have a teeny tiny bad vibes vessel on our person at all times that is CONSTANTLY pinging us with triggering headlines. Waking up at 5am to an Apple news notification reading “death toll rises” is not conducive to a live and kicking start to the day.
People tend to blame themselves for their screen time. It can feel like a weird source of shame, and like we are mentally weak for being distracted, until you remember that they are literally designed to suck us the fuck in and hijack our brain with shiny dopamine hits and just enough stimulation to keep us hooked for hours. This is now so common that the Oxford English Dictionary actually named “doom scrolling” as their 2020 word of the year. See? You’re not the only one trapped in the scroll-panic-repeat loop. Here’s how to jump ship and get back to digital dryland.
Understand why it’s happening
It can feel super weird to not know why you’re doing something compulsively, and understanding the core driver can stop an unhealthy habit in its tracks. If you think about the times the doom scroll seems most appealing, a lot of people tend to fall into the trap during particularly stressful, chaotic times. The world’s going to shit and it can feel like you’ve lost all control, filling yourself up with knowledge can feel like a way of seizing the power back, regardless of how stressed out it leaves you feeling. Knowledge is power, too much knowledge can cause an anxiety attack.
Set a time limit
Raise your hand if you’ve activated the screen-time limitation settings on your phone. Raise your other one if you spend your life overriding it. One of the best ways to crack this habit is to be really, really strict with yourself about the amount of time you’re spending on your phone. Set boundaries, and stick to them.
Emotionally check-in on yourself
When was the last time you asked yourself how you were? Checking in on your internal mood throughout the day can be a really helpful way of getting under the hood of how different things make you feel. Morning run? Serotonin incoming. Calling a friend for a catch-up? Excellent feelings all round. Scrolling terrifying news in the dark for 3 hours? You get the vibe.