If you’re like most people, you’ve likely spent some time in recent months “doomscrolling.” That’s when we mindlessly thumb through depressing news on our phone or tablet. For example: Twitter has reported a 24% increase in daily active users… with most of the new activity credited to gloomy posts about the pandemic. And according to psychologist Dr. Mary McNaughton-Cassill, that’s NOT a surprise!
First, because our brains are literally hard-wired to pay attention to threats… and as far as our brain is concerned, there’s no difference between reading news about a deadly virus, and discovering there’s a hungry lion nearby. Either way, it’s information we can use to help keep ourselves safe.
Plus, social media apps are designed to encourage doomscrolling. Think about it: With Twitter, Facebook and news apps, the more you scroll, the more fresh content you see! And apps know the longer they can keep YOU locked in a cycle of doomscrolling, the more revenue THEY’LL get from advertisers!
But Dr. McNaughton-Cassill says the problem is that each time our stress response gets activated, and we DON’T fight or flee, it increases our risk for unhealthy anxiety, depression and poor sleep! That’s why she recommends regulating your social media exposure, to limiting doomscrolling as much as possible.