If used correctly, social media can be a means of entertainment, information and active engagement. But, since the development of social media platforms, concerns over adverse health effects these platforms may be causing continue to rise as the way people use these platforms evolve. Long gone are the times when people turned to social media as just a place to post vacation photos and watch videos of cats doing tricks. These platforms have evolved as the go-to for constant updates on what’s happening in the world. And as with most trending news, it’s not usually good news. The isolation brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused more people to turn to social media to stay connected, keep up with the latest news and just pass the time. And, those already using social media regularly before the pandemic rely on it even more. As the effects of isolation, negativity, despair and other consequences of the pandemic come to light, obsession with social media expands far beyond FOMO. It’s further enabled “doom scrolling” or “doom surfing.” These are terms used to describe the tendency to fixate on news, events and scenarios resulting in severe agitation, causing physical discomfort. Constantly viewing negativity can lead to catastrophizing— focusing on the negative in all situations. Over time, this can lead to a host of mental health issues. Of course, the effects of this negativity can be devastating for those already suffering from anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions. Until more people become aware of the possible dangers of using social media and the real mental health issues that can arise, people suffering from “doom surfing” will continue.
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