Why The Hell Can't I Stop Reading Bad News? An Expert Explains All
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Let's face it, we're all guilty of spending a little too much time on social media.
With the coronavirus pandemic sending us back into lockdown for the third time, many of us have turned to apps and other social platforms in order to keep in touch with others - and stay informed on the latest news.
However, some of us may have found ourselves compulsively and obsessively scrolling through endless negative headlines and stories on our news feeds - even doing it subconsciously.
Our newfound nose for news has been dubbed by psychologists as 'doomscrolling' - and there's a very good reason why this has become our strange new hobby.
"Phone use has increased massively during lockdown as many people are looking for connection, support and thoughts on what is happening in the world - we're all longing for answers, clarity and connection," Psychology and Neuroscience expert Ruth Kudzi explains to Tyla.
"Although we are on our phones more and more, doom scrolling is nothing new - a constant stream of noise, thoughts, comments and strong beliefs on social media never ends, however, during the pandemic, the content has become more doom. Many of us are finding ourselves reading bad news about Covid-19 or the world in crisis without the ability to stop or step back."
Our need to feed our desire for negative news stems from the evolutionary behaviour we have to ready ourselves for the very worst.
"We don't respond well to uncertainty and therefore try to look at what we can control and try our best to fill in the gaps and try to find the answers," Ruth continues.
"We are often drawn towards saddening, disheartening, or depressing news as we are hardwired to focus on negatives for survival. It's our primal instinct - know everything to be prepared."
But we don't have to be chained to our phones and social media forevermore, with Ruth providing some tips to get us out of the thumb-scrolling rut.
"The biggest thing is to allow yourself to feel the emotions and sit with them. Allow yourself to process them," she says. "This process can take a few days and ever-time you feel angry or sad or disappointed or under pressure - allow yourself to just be, give yourself permission - you can even say aloud 'it's ok to feel this' - most importantly be kind to yourself and others during this process.
"When you have allowed time for processing, go back to what you can control.
"So, when you are feeling these emotions, we have to realise that doom scrolling is only fuelling this and therefore it's really important to be aware of how we are feeling. It's important to set boundaries in order to ensure we're not spiralling our thoughts."
Ruth adds that seeing constant bad news can warp our perspective on what's really happening in the world and in our lives.
"There's more behind it," she says. "Whether that be one angle on a story or topic in the news or one perfect picture on a social media channel - it's a highlight or snap shot of the bigger picture.
"You are in control of what you see - if there's certain people, channels, news outlets that make you angry, upset, frustrated... you can mute them or hide them for a while.
"Maybe set yourself online hours and then hide your laptop or mobile or pop it back in its case... in order to try and ensure you're not tempted to quickly check something."
Finally, Ruth advises we put phones away when we're trying to catch some zzz's.
"Late night scrolling when our brain is tired isn't a great time to scroll, yet it tends to be the time that most of us do," she says.
"Try and establish a new bedtime routine for relaxation."