Whether it is keeping up on the latest gossip through a local Facebook group, or following major news stories such as the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, nearly everything we want to keep tabs on is available right at our fingertips. When people are using social media and other platforms to keep up to speed on events that are overwhelming negative it is called doomscrolling, or doomsurfing.
The term is a relatively new one, dating back to 2018, even though the idea of it is much older. Taking in negative news over platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Tik Tok from any and every source that’s available, without consideration for validity or reliability, can result in a self-perpetuating cycle thanks to how social media apps deliver content to users based on algorithms that take their online activities into account.
The influx of negativity, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic starts to wane, and the conflict in Ukraine escalates, can often have impacts on a person’s mental health.
“The impact that media as a whole has on people can vary,” explained Tasha Collins. She is the program director with the Weyburn branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. “We can all identify that it can certainly affect our mental health, and it can make us feel anxious and stressed or fearful, even depressed or isolated, and when we concentrate on that negativity it can certainly affect us on many levels.”
When it comes to coping with the negativity, and ensuring mental health, Collins had a few recommendations.
“Some tips that we would offer would be like seeking information from reliable news sources, limiting your exposure to the news and social media, focussing on self-monitoring,” Collins stated. “The solution is not to take away the phones, but maybe it's about recognizing appropriate consumption.” She added that focusing on things we can control can help provide relief. Some of those things include where we get information from, who we speak to, our sleep patterns, and eating healthy.
“We don’t want people to ignore or suppress any of those anxious thoughts – we want people to be aware of that anxiety and accept the feelings in that situation, but certainly keeping things In perspective,” Collins added. She noted that self-care is important. This includes taking that time away from the news, leaning on social supports and doing things that you enjoy.