Writing Challenge Day 27: Ending My Doomscroll

In case anyone is not familiar with doomscrolling, here is Dictionary.com’s definition.


or doom-scroll

[ doom-skrohl ]

verb (used with or without object) Digital Technology.

to obsessively check online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.

Now that we’ve defined our term, let’s chat about it. Doomscrolling is not a new term, by any means, but 2020 really made it sink in for me. Before this year, I had no issues with turning off social media, the news, whatever. There were always times of contention where I would get frustrated or sad or just feeling the toxicity. Times like the months leading up to major elections in the U.S., for example.

The challenges we have faced as a global population AND as individuals this year have been myriad. Controversial and divisive digital public spaces combined with people’s willingness to say pretty much anything online as if there are no repercussions seemed to be amplified by the fact that 2020 has been… well, 2020…you were there.

For me, this year also included a resurgence in activity on Twitter. Before my role here as a Head Geek, I was mostly inactive on Twitter. Compared to 2019, though, my social media activity has at least doubled this year. So much happened this year that I found myself succumbing to the doomscroll and allowing it to affect my motivation and my mood regularly.

What did I do about it?

I was tired of how I felt day after day ingesting all the negativity and toxicity online, so I decided to limit myself. It really started with a camping trip where I had no phone service. Completely unplugged. I felt so GOOD and refreshed after this trip, and after a couple of days back in the “real” world I connected the dots and realized the doomscroll was at least a large part of my problem. Sometime in June, after yet another conversation with fellow Head Geek Leon Adato about the woes of the world, I made a decision. For my own mental and emotional health, I was not going to look at any social media on the weekends. Later, I expanded this to weeknights as well. At first, it was a challenge in self-control as I would be bored and subconsciously open it while watching TV or waiting for something. Then, I would remind myself not to look at it and close it down.

This has done wonders for me, personally. In the beginning, there was FOMO and concern I was ignoring important issues. However, I have realized it will all still be there on Monday or in the morning. If I don’t respond to something as it’s happening, it really doesn’t affect anything.

That’s my story on ending my doomscroll this year. Have you overcome the doomscroll this year? How are you taking care of yourself this year?

  • I actually did the opposite. I took the FB link off my phone homescreen. Then turned off all notifications from that and other apps.

    On the weekend when I want to catch up with friends postings, I have to go into my all apps page and open it from there. Then, I try to do my best to avoid the news in the news feed and just respond to personal interactions.

    Nothing can sideline a productive day like a seemingly innocent reply to a post while on break.

    However, over the last few months I have began doomscrolling on twitter. Then rabbitholing after that.

    You plug one hole in the ship and another one appears.

    I heard about something similar, but you helped me understand this topic better.
  • You mentioned FOMO, and it reminded me of a  recent event.

    A friend just finished dealing with the aftermath of a DDOS impacting their business, brought about by FOMO with The Cloud.  Executives couldn't prove using cloud services was going to improve their production; they just knew "everyone is moving to the cloud".  They brought up a new cloud-based solution and shut down their internal one that lived behind a firewall.

    When their cloud site experienced an extended DDOS, they reached out to the provider for help in stopping/shunning the sources.  The service vendor said that wasn't their responsibility; they provide the storage/service, and it's up to the customer to protect it via routers with ACLs to deny DOS attacks.  

    FOMO can be a mistake when you have a satisfactory solution in house that ends up being even more reliable and available than the cloud.

  • Thanks, all!

    There are still challenges that try to pull me back in to the doomscroll - the week of December 13th, for example, but I find it easier every time to pull myself back out of it.

     I agree! FOMO just leaves people feeling what they have/are doing is not enough so they can't really enjoy life. 

     I envy your ability to stay completely off social media. I don't think I can quite quit though.

     I agree! The complete fasting of social media during camping trips and vacations is a must. I am more able to enjoy myself in the moment for those times and I feel much more relaxed returning from those "trips".

     I tend to be the same - checking up on news and rumors - for video games as that is my hobby. I, too, use social media to see family and friends that no longer live nearby (and now that we don't see anyway). Getting updates on new family additions and fun and challenges in loved ones lives is the only reason I still have Facebook. Twitter is more like a scrolling "news" feed for me, and that has been the place that has challenged me the most this year.

     Yes! Put the devices down and enjoy life around you. For me, quality conversation is much more preferable to most anything that could be happening on social media. It has been quite some time since I have taken a road trip. It may be time to plan one again.

     I envy you your ability to ignore it all. Truly. Every time I take a break from it, I feel better.

     I agree with 's sentiments on the joy of missing out. It is certainly a more relaxed time, and I am all about minimizing stress. 

  • Last year (who is, ironically, one of the folks who helps MANAGE our social media), wrote about "JOMO", the JOY of missing out: (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/t5/Contests-Missions-Blog/Day-13-JOMO-The-Joy-of-Missing-Out/ba-p/471738). As IT folks, I think we sometimes create and then carry with us a misconception that, because we CANNOT ignore incoming data in our job (everything from monitoring to meeting requests), we are somehow able or even driven to do so with data sources outside of work.

    "Geeks" are no more obligated to consume vast quantities of unhealthy information than we are the stereotypical diet of funions and Jolt cola.

    In the last year it's even more important for us to remember that we have a choice, and to exercise that choice for our ongoing mental health.

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