Opinion: Unplug and Engage, How to Fight Doom Scrolling

A coloring page and a stack of colored pencils lay on a table next to a tea cup. Coloring and drawing are creative alternatives to excessive device time (Photo by Tea Creative | Soo Chung via Unsplash).

I repeatedly heard the term “doom scrolling” at the start of the new year; a new trend of “ins and outs” for 2024 had taken off. On those over-fixed lists of “ins and outs,” doom scrolling popped up repeatedly on different people’s lists. I paid it no mind. I thought, “good for them,” and continued my business. 

As if overnight, “doom scrolling” followed me everywhere on social media. It was no longer limited to people’s resolutions for the new year; it began to seep into topics of mental health and wellness, debates on how easily accessible the internet has become and the trending phrase in conversations. Of course, it seemed ironic since I only got exposure to the topic on social media platforms, but it piqued my interest. 

I went on a journey to define “doom scrolling” and how to combat it. It was as if the internet was catching up with the lingo, getting half-baked definitions from different websites. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines doom scrolling as spending excessive time on one’s phone or computer and retaining content that triggers sadness, anger and anxiety. 

Engaging with news and media is okay, but it has become an issue disguised as necessary information. I am no stranger to doom scrolling; it has influenced mine and others’ fears and anxieties. 

Combating doom scrolling is not effortless; technology has become an additional appendage, always close by, with endless information available at the click of a button. The world has become a harsh and hostile place lately – the world is dying, people are dying, the economy is dying – and I am watching it happen through a screen inches away from my face. 

Information, answers and awareness should continuously be sought after and understood – people remaining ignorant in a world as hostile and harsh as this one is both unfathomable and idiotic. I advocate for staying informed and knowledgeable of local and distant current events, but it can become overwhelming and disheartening only to see negative information. Doom scrolling deeply affects the psyche, altering the mentality and perceptions of those consistently consuming harmful media. Health.com lists the effects of doom scrolling on mental illness: Influencing one’s apprehension, anxiety, sadness, anger and impending dread towards the future. 

Instead of being plagued by the uncontrollableness of the world, the frequency of negative media or feeling overwhelmed by current events, there are other activities to focus on to ease the mind. 

Exploring new hobbies offers a positive alternative to the excessive absorption of negative media. The possibilities are vast and exciting, whether delving into fitness, adventuring inside your community or venturing into coloring and drawing. Unlike the passive consumption of harmful digital content, discovering a new hobby can engage the mind positively as it sparks creativity and fosters a sense of accomplishment. 

 

Coloring and Drawing

In a digital landscape where information is ephemeral and intangible, there is something deeply satisfying about the tangible, physical nature of coloring. The satisfaction and euphoria of coloring and drawing is lost in the wake of tragic events;  the feeling of a pencil gliding across paper and the vibrant hues of freshly sharpened crayons evoke a sense of nostalgia and connection to simpler times. A cheap Spongebob-themed coloring book and a basic pack of Crayola colored pencils restore this feeling of carefree enthusiasm and blissful imagination. 

The coloring book was an impulse buy, the colored pencils a “just in case” school supply. I had no interest in coloring for months as I let the book collect dust. Then, after a stressful and daunting day spent in lectures, dreading the piling assignments I needed to complete and bombarding myself with information about the current genocide in Gaza of the world – remaining ignorant is a no – I was overwhelmed and defeated. I could not bring myself to pointlessly scroll through social media, concentrate on the mountain of assignments waiting for me or take a nap with a hyper-fixated mind. 

The next best thing? Coloring. 

It has been years since I have sat down and simply colored or drawn with purpose; I have absentmindedly doodled in notebooks during droning lectures and completed creative projects where coloring and drawing were involved; the act of coloring and drawing though had not felt natural since I was ten years old. 

 It was strange to return to that feeling through the simple act of coloring, allowing my burdens and troubles to rest. I felt peaceful for the first time in a long time; it felt surreal. I was not exhausted over my frustrations with academics and was not anxious about the uncontrollables in my life. All I focused on was getting the right shade of pink for Patrick. 

 It was my creativity against the world at that moment.

Healthline research suggests coloring and drawing can ease depression and anxiety, become a healthy distraction, improve meditation and sleep patterns, increase motor skills, aid in emotional intelligence and mindfulness, sharpen your mind and create an opportunity for play. Instead of consuming content passively, coloring and drawing can engage active creators, shaping worlds and narratives with nothing more than a blank page and a handful of colors. 

Disconnecting and stepping away from an overwhelming media ecosystem allows one to engage with new forms of creative expression while coloring and drawing. 

Human Interaction

Amidst the buzz of notifications and the endless scroll through media feeds, gathering with friends, family or loved ones offers a refreshing reprieve. Human interactions occur when two or more people engage in vulnerable interactions and prioritize seeing, hearing, attending and being present for one another. Face-to-face encounters over virtual exchanges allow individuals to cultivate bonds that transcend the limitations of digital communication, nurturing relationships grounded in authenticity and empathy. The fondest memories I have are the ones with my friends; the ones with the most laughter and screams. 

I purchased a Nintendo Switch summers ago but recently brought it to campus. I usually played the games by myself, slaying zombies in Minecraft, taking first place in Mario Kart and beating the butts of CPUs in Smash Bros. On a particularly dull Saturday night, my friends and I had an impromptu game night that turned into hours of playing Mario Kart. Of course I was racking up first-place wins, but it quickly became about something other than winning repeatedly. The playful screaming, trash-talk and false accusations of cheating thrown across the room; laughter and joy bubbling around us; the fun of being with my closest friends; that was all that mattered. 

Human interactions cannot be generated or crafted through the internet; connections are not as genuine or authentic through screens as they get lost in the scope of worries and woes the world seemingly offers.  Interactions like these can become convoluted in the expansive worlds of the internet, instant messaging and different communication platforms.

Getting Outside

Instead of trapping yourself indoors and being excessively bombarded with negative news and media, stepping outside and embracing your surroundings can transform your psyche. A vast realm of natural beauty is waiting to explore past our screens. 

In contrast with the phenomenon of doom scrolling, the “hot girl walk” has become a positive addition to terminology entering the new year. The “hot girl walk,” coined by Mia Lind, initially takes form as a four-mile outdoor mindfulness walk in which you are supposed to think of what you are grateful for, your short-term and long-term goals, how you plan to achieve said goals and be hot while exercising. The definition and purpose of the “hot girl walk” have changed to better associate with individuals rather than an overarching guide to follow. 

Whether walking along the street or lounging outside, immersing oneself in nature offers a profound opportunity for reconnecting with the world and our inner selves. A “hot girl walk” can be difficult when the weather is unfavorable, but the payout is well worth it: reestablishing confidence, taking time for yourself and disconnecting from the World Wide Web. 

I took a mini “hot girl walk” towards downtown Albion. I began the walk to fulfill an errand. Determined to get from point A to point B and nothing more, I was captivated by Albion’s quaint and quiet nature. Again, my music and I against the world as I strolled the brick streets. 

I lounged inside Dickerson Music Company, scanning through the detailed collection of records and sheets of music. I stumbled upon Stirling Books and Brew, an unexpected gem, and grew comfortable with its quiet ambiance. I sat in the cafe for hours, sipping boba tea and scanning through their display of books. The final stop of my “hot girl walk” was Hungry Howies. I returned to campus feeling refreshed and giddy with my small pizza box in hand. 

I noticed the giant Coca-Cola art painted on the side of a building, the abandoned structures that lined the brick streets and the stream that splashed and ran under the bridge. 

The walk opened my eyes and eased my mind in unexpected ways. I wonder if I would have stepped foot outside of campus to explore Albion organically; if not for the errand, I would have missed out on Albion’s beauty, tucked away by stressful academics and packed schedules. 

Engaging in physical activity invigorates the body and revitalizes the mind and spirit. Whether it be a stroll around the neighborhood, a brisk jaunt through the town or an amble along sun-kissed streets, the “hot girl walk” embodies a spirit of empowerment, confidence and unapologetic self-love. Far from mere physical activity, it is a declaration of self-worth – a reminder that every step taken is a testament to resilience, strength and unwavering authenticity. 

Everyone has different ways of disconnecting; that’s great. Such cannot be accomplished by being inside and spending excessive time engrossed in news and media. You may see pieces of the world through your phone, but you cannot be a part of the world you live in unless you go outside and embrace what it has to offer.

About Tre’sure Lott 1 Article
Tre’sure Lott Junior Detroit English (Creative writing) & Communications Journalism has continuously been the most authentic form of writing. The unheard have a voice, the invisible become seen and the truth is unmistakable. All this and more conveyed through journalism, both an aspiration and admiration to be a part of this narrative, to be a part of history.

3 Comments

  1. This was a great read and very informative on being aware of how much a device can deter your day or even your lives , goes to show the statement to be true “too much of anything can be bad for you”

  2. Exceptional! I really enjoyed the article. I can understand why anyone would choose social media over human interaction and nature.

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