Have You Been Doomscrolling?

Image by Mote Oo Education from Pixabay

Have you been doomscrolling lately?

It is defined as the act of scrolling on your device and reading or skimming the endless stream of bad news that hit us daily on news sites and social media. The pandemic, economic hard times, violence in the street and the Black Lives Matter protests are all important stories but seem to all be part of a doomsday scenario.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary people have recently flagged doomscrolling as one of the words it is watching for 2020 for possible inclusion into the dictionary.

The word has appeared in stories in Business Insider, and the close variation, “doomsurfing,” appeared in the New York Times.

Why are people doomscrolling if the news is so negative? It is a combination of a “fear of missing out” (FOMO), a “hurry-up-and-wait” instinct and a real desire to get information on the pandemic and other issues even if that information is incomplete, questionably accurate and depressing.

With so many sources of information at our fingertips, the temptation to doomscroll is seductive to many people.

What I Am Listening To: News

stitcherThe top podcasts on my favorites list (using Stitcher) are not my favorite podcasts. They are the shorter news podcasts where I start the day of listening. My news podcasts increase in length as I listen (in order) to ones that delve deeper into stories.

Here are the titles of what I’m listening to these days as “news.”

You can find them in Stitcher, iTunes or whatever you use to subscribe to podcasts.

You can find many of these on the web too, but subscribing is the much better way to listen since they just appear automatically. If you’re new to podcasts, just think of these apps and subscribing as the audio version of a DVR.

NPR News – NPR has lots of podcasts, but I start with this short hourly one that gets you updated in about 4 minutes.

Up First – also NPR but with more details. Their suggested news stories to start the day.

The Writer’s Almanac – You might not think of this one from Garrison Keillor as news, but the items from the past are often oddly relevant to today. Plus starting my day with having a poem read to me is a balm to the harsh news that makes up the standard news broadcasts. Okay, full disclosure: though I was already listening to this for years (including when it was a radio program that I had to catch at just the right time), Garrison did read three of my poems earlier this year. (see bottom of post)

The Slowdown with poet and former Poet Laureate of the U.S. is another slice of poetry on my breakfast plate. She introduces a poem with a brief personal connection to the pom or its content.

If you don’t have 5 minutes for some poetry, then you probably won’t understand why William Carlos Williams wrote that “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.”

The Newsworthy is hosted by a remarkably upbeat Erica Mandy who posts at 4a.m while I’m dreaming about the day to come. In 10 minutes, she gives you the big stories of the day and I really like that on her website, thenewsworthy.com,  she gives you the sources if you want to dig deeper into a story. Even the NY Times or Washington Post doesn’t give you links to sources.

The longest podcast on my news slate is The Daily from The New York Times which is a very popular podcast that goes deep on one story using the resources of the newspaper.

I still live a bit in the tech world, but I don’t have the patience for most tech podcasts that run 30, 60, 90+ minutes.

I have an interest in some aspects of the business world, but it’s not my world, so my choices are ones that are understandable to the outsider.

Tech News Briefing is from the Wall Street Journal and is typically about one current issue of tech. Though it has a business slant, the news applies to all of us.

Marketplace Tech is hosted by Molly Wood and this daily show looks at how tech influences our lives. Tech + business + the digital world.

Numbers by Barrons is about 2 minutes long and focuses on some numbers that relate to what’s happening in economics and finance and “navigate the markets.”

Business Story of the Day – is another NPR podcast short that selects one story from their business coverage.

NPR also has its own podcast app – NPR One where you select from their content and then some algorithm picks additional content you should enjoy.

Make Me Smart with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood is one of the longer ones on this list but it’s a weekly podcast so it comes out to less than 10 minutes a day.  They have good chemistry and nice engagement with their audience and focus more on a theme than a story. It’s business (each of them does other business podcasts) but not “of the day” – more of “of the times.”

Environment is another NPR short podcast taking one story from the current news that relates to environmental issues.

My final recommendation is not really news, but, like the almanac, it’s a good short daily listen.  Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day is like a podcast version of those calendars people used to have on their desk. It gives you the meanings and more importantly the etymology and uses of a word that you may not be familiar with – or have been misusing.

Three of my poems were featured on The Writer’s Almanac earlier this year. A text version of each poem is also posted online. One is a serious poem, “Shame,” and two have the tongue in the cheek, at least partially – “Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” and “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes.”