July Newsletter

by | Jul 15, 2020

At the Corner of Doom and Gloom: Doomscrolling Vs Curate Your Brain

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I recently came across the term “doom scrolling” or “doom surfing.” As you can imagine, these phrases refer to the practice of scrolling through social media posts, consuming more and more negative news, sending yourself into an existential crisis.

The idea of garbage in, garbage out applies not just to computer code, but to the human brain. Who hasn’t noticed that the more news you read the more negative and depressed you feel? And TV news? Don’t even get me started. Something about those voices of authority dispensing all that negativity is 10x worse than just reading the words.

That brings me to what I think of as “curating” my mind. I work hard to curate what I consume, whether social media or other forms of entertainment, in order to keep my sanity. For many years now I’ve stopped watching TV news. Since 2016 I’ve tried hard to limit my news reading to headlines and a few in-depth articles. It’s not that I want to be uninformed, but I have to balance the dreadful news with those things I can actually control.

This is true also for things I consume beyond news. I don’t watch scary movies, I don’t read thrillers (I can handle most police procedurals), and I prefer music with a peppy beat. I often feel embarrassed about my “style.” It feels superficial and unsophisticated to lean toward the light so much, but why should I fill my brain with more bad feelings than what I naturally have already? Why is someone more sophisticated who has a cynical and critical outlook than someone who has a sunny and optimistic one? I have one life to live, I’d rather spend it looking on the bright side.

This brings me to the other tool I use to counterbalance the forces of darkness: gratitude. I don’t do it as regularly as I used to, but I try to stop every day and consciously, even verbally, express gratitude for something in my life. It reminds me of how lucky I am and how important it is to not take that for granted.

What has this got to do with writing? Writing takes a lot of head space. If you have all these extraneous, negative thoughts zooming around in your brain, you have less ability to get into that creative zone. We all know how hard it is in the best of situations to get into that zone, why make it harder?

So this is my vote. I vote for optimism. I’m not saying ignore all the awful things out there, but I am saying, moderate your consumption of it, figure out what constructive part you can play, but don’t be consumed by guilt and anxiety because that is not doing anyone any good.

It’s Up To You.

Curate Your Brain.

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