Doom scrolling

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By Samir Parikh

New Delhi– Today, when we are glued to our cellphones, a common response to unpleasant news is to go online and read more and more information about it — a phenomenon so prevalent that it’s now referred to as ‘doom scrolling’. While it is natural, and even adaptive, to want to know more about a situation of concern, the manner and extent to which people are now engaging in such behaviour can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health and well-being. While this phenomenon existed before as well, nowhere has it been seen more prominently than with the pandemic. Here are a few things to keep in mind that can help:

* Become aware of your information consumption — at the slightest hint of boredom, we’ve developed a tendency to pick up our phones and start scrolling — whether it’s social media or news websites. Take a few days to reflect on the amount of time you are spending consuming information, as well as the extent to which it is repetitive. Be more self-aware in terms of how you choose to spend your time and the nature of information you would like to consume.

* Become media literate — The information we receive is now customized to our interests, our perspectives, and our search histories. It’s therefore inevitable to get bombarded by lots more of the same information as we have viewed. In this environment, therefore, become cognizant of the manner in which technology is designed to capture our attention so that you’re able to retain your power of choice.

* Stick to a few verified sources of information — the internet is abounding with information, with multiple platforms vying for our limited attention. To minimize doom scrolling, stick to a few news channels, papers, or websites that you trust.

* Look for alternate ways to cope with bad news — seeking information or answers to a difficult situation is a strategy people may utilize to cope with stress. Consider using other strategies when experiencing distress — it could be speaking to someone, or actively disengaged from that situation by involving yourself in another activity.

* Minimize screen time — we spend more time on our screens now more than ever. Given how reliant we have now become on gadgets for our work, try to stay away from your devices during breaks. Engage in other activities and hobbies that give you a break from your screen. At the same time, it’s not just about the amount of time you spend on your devices but how you use them that matters as well. Pick a video or telephone call with a loved one over texting or liking their posts on social media. Also, avoid checking your phone at least 45 minutes before you sleep as well as the first thing in the morning.

* Spread positivity online — we’re surrounded by stories of both positivity as well as negativity, the choice is ours what we choose to focus on and to what extent. Rather than focusing on everything that’s going wrong, take some time to deliberately look for stories of hope and joy. Similarly, when sharing a post, reflect on its validity, as well as the impact that it may have on the receiver. Think about whether it will spread positivity or add more distress to the reader. When it comes to social media, we are all creators of information — let’s be responsible and conscientious in the content we create and spread. (IANS)



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