Illuminated by the halo glow from your iPhone screen, you look over at your bedside clock.
It’s somehow already three in the morning, but the last thing you remember was laying down for a brief internet scroll before bed. After stories of wildfires, COVID-19 rates, gun violence, and threats of World War III, you don’t feel quite as tired as you did before. You’re anxious, alert, and unable to sleep. This is the world of the 2020s—where doomscrolling reigns supreme.
Doomscrolling emerged as a new term in 2020, defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing.”
Beyond the pandemic, doomscrolling perpetuates a newscycle geared toward fear as a psychological driver for users to stay active on news sites—“fear” of missing out on the latest and greatest disaster.
It has direct mental health implications—leading to increased feelings of apprehension, panic, anxiety, and stress—and stems from our innate fear of the unknown and our desire to fill the information gap, as suggested by PubMed Central.
According to a 2020 study in Germany, researchers found a link between COVID-19 media exposure and the severity of anxiety. With notification settings going off every time something bad happens—from Ukrainian updates to new COVID-19 strains—it’s critical now more than ever that digital consumers practice digital mindfulness in the types of content they consume.
What is Joyscrolling?
Digital mindfulness is the process of conscious consumption—remembering that every click, follow, engagement, and action is a personal choice.
In 2020, Iceland’s tourism board reminded of us of this fact with what initially began as a tourism ploy—a site of Icelandic sights and sounds promoting Iceland’s idyllic landscape from waterfalls and fjords to saunas and sheep.
The site offers a total of 22.7m of pure joy, keeping a tab on top of how far you’ve scrolled.
More than a brilliant tourism marketing tactic, however, this joyscrolling site made waves across the globe—striking on a global chord in need of a shift and a reminder that we have the power to choose.
Practicing Digital Mindfulness
While joyscrolling can look like perusing the gorgeous grounds of the Icelandic landscape, far more practically it represents curating a feed that balances and restores—allowing for a sense of optimism and hope. Following mindfulness channels, TherapyTok, artists, and creators all reminds us of the beauty that exists around us and the joys that still exist.
Rather than making us less informed, balancing the news with joyscrolling builds a community that’s more resilient and more able to face the realities of our world. When we feel happy, safe, and secure we are far more likely to make better decisions, listen to others, and think critically. Joyscrolling allows us to look at news from a rational perspective rather than a fear-based mentality. It’s self-actualization at its finest, digital-style.
While joyscrolling cannot replace the need to be socially, globally, and politically informed, it should be seen as supplementary to our news intake—a meditative act in an often all-too chaotic world.
How To Curate A Joy-Filled Feed
1. Unfollow individuals who bring up negative emotions.
We all have that one person who we love to hate—whether it’s a famous celebrity, a foe-slash-friend, or an acquaintance who lives a life that brings up feelings of jealousy. Rather than hatescrolling through their feeds, consider muting their posts or unfollowing them altogether. While it may feel cathartic to hate-watch, it ultimately brings out the worst rather than the best in people.
2. Limit your screen use before bed.
Your late-night doomscrolling isn’t just affecting your mental health, it’s also affecting your sleep. That blue light that emits from tablets, computers, smartphones, and TVs? It interferes with your body’s natural production of melatonin, making it more difficult to get a full night’s rest and sleep. Limiting your screen time leading up to two hours before bed can lead to greater rest and deeper sleep, by allowing your body to follow its natural circadian rhythm. Try picking up a book instead, or spending quality time with loved ones in-person, connecting and checking in.
3. Turn Off Unnecessary Notifications.
Notifications are natural attention-grabbers, disrupting the present with a badge and ding. Notifications can easily send you down a doomscroll spiral, going from one fear mongering article to the next. As you go through your notification settings, consider which notifications are helpful and which are unnecessary. Turning off notifications will help you not check your phone as often, allowing you to decide when and when not to consume specific media.
Joyscrolling is not just an act, but a way of life. Build a life that delights and inspires, allowing for greater empathy toward those around you. Stay informed, stay aware, and also allow yourself rest and relaxation—practicing gratitude for and attention to the goodness that still exists.
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