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What Are Doomscrolling & Doomsurfing? How Do You Stop?

·487 words·3 mins
Mental Health

As regular readers know, I love when new terms pop into existence. I’m not the person who sighs, screws up my face, and asks, “Ugh, do we need another label?’

Nope. It “not me.” Absolutely, positively, 100% not me.

I’m the person who sits up a little straighter in their seat and goes, “A new word? Interesting. What does that mean?”

I am what I am, like it or not.

Anyway, I recently learned another one while looking through the news — where it’s been having quite a moment. Doomscrolling. And its variant doomsurfing.

And as I looked further into the issue, I realized with great delight that I had actually been doomscrolling/doomsurfing when I happened upon both words. It’s funny when life works that way — when themes practically echo.

What Are Doomscrolling & Doomsurfing?

Anyway, I thought I’d share the terms with you, dear readers. If you hate learning newly coined words and even resent that they exist, feel free to go find another essay to read. But for the rest of you, you might be asking, “Doomscrolling? Doomsurfing? What in the world do those mean?”

They basically mean the same thing. Here’s the definition from an article by Merriam-Webster (yes, the dictionary people):

Doomscrolilng and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.

Both terms are having a bit of a moment, this article as well as many others published recently say, likely because of covid-19. A lot of folks are engaging in the behavior, continually combing for more information about the virus and the pandemic, finding it difficult to take breaks even though it’s affecting them negatively.

It’s an easy habit fall into. These are serious issues, and it’s important to stay informed. At the same time, it’s overwhelming, the tidal wave of very serious bad news.

How Do You Stop?

You might be wondering: How do you stop doomscrolling?

So I did some bopping around, reading everything I could on the phenomenon (not always easy because a lot of the info is locked behind paywalls), and the advice actually is very similar to any sort of technological overload: You need to make sure to take intentional breaks from being online. Take scheduled unplugging vacations.

This can be trickier than normal if you’re staying at home to minimize your exposure to the virus. However, there are options: Reading books, watching movies, playing a game or having a good conversation with someone you live with, engaging in meditation, taking a relaxing bath, etc.

But just like other technological overload, the first step is realizing you want to unplug and committing to it.

And I have to admit that for in my own personal life, it can be difficult for me to feel like it’s okay to step away. Not impossible. But difficult sometimes.


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