How much time do you spend scrolling through your social or news feeds? Let me be honest. I still spend more time than I would like.
At this time last year, I was ‘doom-scrolling’ for well over an hour per day — and maybe closer to two or three hours. I, like many other people, became addicted to the news that was going on while we were stuck sheltering in place. It was the beginning stages of understanding the pandemic. It was social unrest. It was crazy narcissistic politics. It unfortunately became a habit — and now that things are sprinting their way back to normal, I still find myself scrolling too often with no purpose whatsoever
Media is a form of escapism, which can be healthy. Your brain is just like every other muscle in your body: It gets worked and it needs recovery time. The challenge is that when you need a distraction, your phone is right there — and it’s far too easy to simply click on an app and start watching videos, reading articles and texting with friends. Each of these are new media outlets that play a constructive role, but they can also have negative consequences.
When I start to scroll through my news feed or social media, it can be fun for a few minutes. I like to see what’s going on or read about the news of the day. I like to see smiling faces and I like to get updates. The challenge is when to stop.
I find the repetition of scrolling and reading to be a function of inertia. It can be hard to pull yourself out of the tailspin of ‘scroll, watch, scroll watch’. It is not uncommon to look up and realise 45 minutes have passed and I have nothing to show for it. In that 45 minutes I could have gone for a run, watched a show or done something else with my time.
In fact, I could have gotten everything I needed or wanted out of that experience in 10 minutes.
The worst for me is that I have created this habit of diving into these apps first thing in the morning as a means of waking up, but my brain is not actually being stimulated at that point. It is just droning on, escaping, and I’m starting to realise this is not healthy.
If I wanted to argue with myself, I could say the time I spend reading in the morning is valuable for business purposes. I am reading The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. I am reading MediaPost (of course). I could try to argue that value to myself, but the truth, is I still could get everything I needed in 10-15 minutes and then I should get up and move around. Escaping from a computer for work to a phone for scrolling is simply not healthy.
As the world gets back to normal and the demands on your time are increasing once again, make sure you are finding that right balance of focus and escapism to replenish and recharge your brain. Put limits on scrolling through news feeds. Find ways to balance your time, and I think you will see a massive benefit. Remember that escapism is okay — but don’t escape for too long, or you might forget the way back.
Cory Treffiletti is SVP at FIS. He has been a thought leader, executive and business driver in the digital media landscape since 1994. In addition to authoring a weekly column on digital media, advertising and marketing since 2000 for MediaPost‘s Online Spin, Treffiletti has been a successful executive, media expert and/or founding team member for a number of companies, and published a book, Internet Ad Pioneers, in 2012.
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