There must have been many times when you thought to yourself, “I’ll just check my phone for 5 minutes before going to sleep,” and then before you know it, it’ll already be 3 A.M. and you’re left in the dark, phone in hand and fear in mind for the next morning which will probably be unpleasant.
People often fall into this trap of infinite scrolling through the Explore page of Instagram, but now, the company is making sure that even your main feed will be turned into an endless scrolling extravaganza.
What Is Doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling is the tendency to continuously scroll through social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and news apps, looking at bad news in an attempt to gather information.
The term has been around since 2018, but the coronavirus pandemic made sure that a much larger population is plunging themselves into an abyss of saddening news stories.
This habit of doomscrolling is due to the human need of wanting to control events in one’s life by gathering information all the time in hopes that one would have better survival instincts and be well-prepared to deal with emergencies. But all that negative news doesn’t really help us.
“Doomscrolling does not create control and only makes you miserable. The overall impact doomscrolling has on people can vary, but typically, it can make you feel extra anxious, depressed, and isolated,” says Ken Yeager, a psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
What Does Instagram’s New Update Have To Do With Doomscrolling?
On Wednesday, Instagram introduced “Suggested Posts” in the main feed of the app.
These suggested posts would be featured right after your regular feed. Following the familiar checkpoint of “You’re all caught up” will be a never-ending feed of posts that are related to accounts you follow and posts you engage with, similar to the content you might encounter on the Explore page.
As of now, there is no option to opt-out of this feature.
The move seems hypocritical, considering the company’s statements in 2018, when Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder said that the company was working on tools to make time spent on Instagram to be “positive and intentional.”
The newly introduced feature does the opposite of that stance.
With the infinite scrolling model, it is all but guaranteed that users will spend more time on the app and given the fact that we’re all still very much in the middle of a pandemic, doomscrolling, in search of coronavirus-related content, is inevitable.
Instagram’s new feature will make the main feed cluttered and clogged up with posts that will make the user experience negative due to a forceful and massive bombardment of content.
The pandemic has led to a huge rise in screentime, with reports saying that there’s been an 87% increase in social media use by the average person.
Increasing social media use, along with increased space for ads due to the new feature, will increase revenue for the company, but it might also end up leaving you more anxious after picking up your phone.
How To Avoid Doomscrolling?
Limiting your time on social media by setting a schedule for phone usage is a start to control doomscrolling. Such a plan needs to be followed every day to make it a habit.
Practising mindfulness through meditation can prove to be a stressbuster.
Instead of reaching for your phone in a break, work on a hobby- reading a book, cooking or talking to friends and family.
In difficult times such as these, switching to social media at every minute in search of new content is not out of the ordinary, but it is essential that we start limiting our time online to get through the pandemic with our anxieties in check.
Image Sources: Google Images
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