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Writing Challenge Day 27: Ending My Doomscroll

Level 13

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

doomscroll

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?

9 Comments
Level 14

Thankfully another person that knows that FOMO needs to go the way of the DODO. Well said and Well done! @ChrystalT 

We know what the important things in life are. Concentrate on those. The rest is easy. Stay focused! Thank you for this write-up... 

 

MVP
MVP

Nice write up @ChrystalT 

A couple of years ago i always use to be online FB/twitter/news/chats ...... but then sooner or later i realized i had become a robot 🙂 I decided not to use it anymore and just to avoid this I started using a normal mobile phone for few months. I could only call or receive calls and send out an SMS if required. Post which i completely stopped being active on social media.

These days i rarely check for social media updates (maybe biweekly). News - i spend about 30 mins in a day.

I recommend a fast from social media.   take 5 to 10 days off.   then go back and look for the positive.  when you look for positive you will find it. 

Level 11

I do check up on news sites and social media (Facebook lately, but it's been more Twitter at times in the past) frequently, but I have never been a doomscroller. I'll read news sites for both reporting and opinion pieces. I read from both sides of the aisle, even when the piece seems to ignore truth or logic. Even while they will get eye rolls from me, I find the pieces informative about how the people who wrote them think and see the world. I think that's important to understanding others, regardless of whether I agree with them. I also keep up with specialty news sites, like MLB Trade Rumors.

Social Media, on the other hand, I use like a newsfeed. I don't post often outside of little things like a mazal tov, passing on condolences, or replying to someone's question. I do use it to see what people I know, especially in my extended family (close-by friends as well during coronatime) are up to. When people I know have a piece published or go somewhere interesting, I'll usually find out on Facebook or Twitter. Twitter, mostly, though, once baseball season hits, becomes my go-to for Nationals news. I follow the various beat writers and former beat writers (just because they're really fun follows). Even when I'm in my seat at the game, I can often get an opinion or clarification on a critical play or call from a beat writer tweeting from the press box just above me before anywhere else.

On a two-week working/camping trip with my wife this summer, we'd sometimes travel into regions where she had no signal for her cell phone while driving.  O, the Frustration for her!  (None for me--I was driving.)

But after continually trying to discover signal after 20 or 30 minutes, she'd give up.  This would be followed by a well-understood grousing session.  And then . . . 

Sunny smiles, interest in the mountains we traveled through, and best of all--conversation with me!  And the trip became so much more enjoyable for her--AND for me!

Being tied into that doom scroll, or simply trying to get work done while riding shotgun on a cross country trip, may be necessary to stay on schedule for accomplishing tasks for work.  But once the ability to connect is gone, and one accepts it, moving onto things within one's control ("Where are we now?  Oh--look at that VIEW!  Are you hungry yet--where should we plan on pulling over for lunch?  What do you think about going boating tonight?") . . . suddenly the trip becomes a fun thing instead of a tense one.

Leave the cell phone / laptop off while your driving and you might just enjoy the ride a whole lot more.  Oh, sure, turn it on to use the GPS / maps functions, but leave remote access to work, and work e-mail, shut down. 

If you can't do that, it's not a vacation.

Level 11

I have learned to almost but not completely avoid news and social media.  Yes, I probably have missed out on some things but I have not wasted a ton of time reading, watching, or listening to the ton of negativity and garbage out there and am much better off for it.

Level 18

Last year @chelsia (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/4717...). 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.

Level 13

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.

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

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

@jeremymayfield 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".

@mjperkins 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.

@rschroeder 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. 🙂

@tphelps01 I envy you your ability to ignore it all. Truly. Every time I take a break from it, I feel better.

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

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.

About the Author
I grew up in Forest Lake, Minnesota in the 1960's, enjoying fishing, hunting, photography, bird watching, church, theater, music, mini-boggan, snowmobiling, neighborhood friends, and life in general. I've seen a bit, have had my eyes opened more than once, and tend not to make the same mistakes twice. Reinventing the wheel is not my preference, and if I can benefit from someone else's experience, that's good all the way around. If someone can benefit from my experience, it's why I share on Thwack.