Doomscrolling.

I’ve never been hip on the latest terms or slang. I recently asked Jamie if he “dipped” when he did some gesture that involved bending and throwing his arms and shoulders to one side. He laughed at me because apparently it’s called “dabbing”. Wait, did he “dab”? “Daub”? Now I’m thinking about playing BINGO.

I subscribe to a couple of motivational newsletters that come out on a regular basis, and one of the newsletters talked about the concept of “Doomscrolling”. During these American times of the pandemic, the crap politics, and the planet falling apart, among many other things, the Internet has provided humans a way to infinitely scroll through their smart devices and search for bad news. We get a certain amount of a dopamine hit from social media in general, and this bad news gives us the same type of hit as good news. As long we’re getting that dopamine hit, we continue to scroll.

The issue is, all of this bad news is stressing us out. Because the bad news generates more clicks and swipes, which in turn increases ad revenue streams for the social media companies, said companies continue to algorithmically fling this type of news in our direction, basically turning social media into an “Outrage Industrial Complex”. We combat this Doomscrolling by adding to the noise, countering or repeating this bad news with our own digital screaming, hoping that we’ll change someone’s mind or make things better by yelling into the chamber of the Outrage Industrial Complex.

This is not the way the Internet was suppose to work.

Some time back I took all “infinite scrolling” apps off my smartphone. If I couldn’t get to the bottom of a web page, or the end of a social media stream, the app didn’t belong on my phone. About 10 years ago Apple took away the ability to directly send a tweet or a Facebook update without using the actual respective application away from iOS. Today, if you want to update your Facebook status or tweet something, you pretty much have to go into an application designed to suck you in with their Doomscrolling algorithms.

This is not nice.

For my 30 day self challenge in September I have resolved to look at Facebook for no longer than three minutes per day. I basically see what the blood relatives are up to, wish my the appropriate friends a happy birthday, and then I shut down my Facebook connection. And I do this from my computer, no mobile devices allowed. I still want to get rid of Facebook completely by the end of the year, but so many of my family and friends rely on the platform as their only interaction method I feel like I’m missing out on important milestones in their lives. I really miss the days of when folks maintained blog like this one right here, but those days are apparently long gone. I am grateful for those continuing to do this old fashioned blog thing.

Twitter is a little trickier for me. I use Twitter as a way to stay in touch with those I share a common interest, namely aviation, tech, and Star Trek. I’ve tried using a third party Twitter application like Tweetbot or Twitterrific but there’s two issues with these apps; like Twitter, they encourage infinite scrolling and Twitter has neutered their third party API to the point that you can barely glean what’s going on in the twitterverse if you’re not using the official application. My primary use of Twitter, aside from my dorky interactions with others, is to see breaking news and use that information as a catalyst to look elsewhere for more reliable sources. It kills me that users think anything of actual news comes across Twitter or Facebook. These streams may provide a hint as to what’s happening in the world, but it’s up to us to find a reliable source to confirm what we’re seeing on the streams as we’re doomscrolling through the latest round of woes.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on improving myself through some professional and other motivational newsletters and other mailings. These things inspire me. They’re not recipes, they’re seeds of ideas that we nurture to grow in ways we want them to grow.

I need to focus more on this and less of the doomscrolling through the “Outrage Industrial Complex”.

Happy scrolling!

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