by Val Mohney, Huckleberry Press Editor
I heard a new term the other day you’ll immediately understand, even if you’ve never heard it before. The new term is “Doomscrolling”.
Merriam Webster describes it like this: Doomscrolling and doomsurfing are new terms referring to the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing. Many people are finding themselves reading continuously bad news about COVID-19 without the ability to stop or step back.
Covid-19, politics, wildfires, hurricanes….there is plenty to be worried about these days. I look back to the before times and now wonder why I thought the news was ever that bad. Yesterday’s “bad news” doesn’t hold a candle to the fascinating and often depressing “news” we grapple with today.
I admit to spending too many hours digesting the state of affairs on both social and mainstream media. It’s as though I’m watching a slow motion trainwreck. The sounds of crushing metal and glass and human body parts cascading in every direction. It’s challenging to rip my attention away. What does everything mean? Will we ever have normal times again? Will work be normal? Will social gatherings be normal? Will our political so-called leaders ever be normal, or relatable, or effective? On our current trajectory, is the remaining 35 years of my life going to be safe and secure leading to a peaceful passing? Or are we headed for a dystopian nightmare where we have to survive some kind of twisted civil war where it’s impossible to know who is right or wrong? What, if anything, can I do to protect my family?
There is much uncertainty. One thing is certain: people are certain about their opinions. In the world of doomscrolling, the certainty of opinion is just one more car careening off the tracks. Reading the comments on articles is frankly appalling. People so fixed in their opinion, so ready to disparage people they don’t even know. The delight in “destroying” a perceived online opponent. The assumptions we make…admit it, you do too…about people who fall on either side of the political spectrum are limiting at best. Is there even a political “spectrum” anymore? By watching the commentary on social media posts you’d assume everyone is either a total radical leftist or zealous right-winger.
Watching some of the commentary on say, Facebook, I often wonder if these people are real or just bots, planted to wind folks up and drive each other crazy? I have never had those kinds of conversations in real life, I wonder what makes people think it’s okay to be rude and dismissive online?
Who are we to trust? How did things get this bad? Endless questions swirl around the uncertainty, peppered with righteousness. It’s hard to set it all down, get out of my head and say, go work in the garden, walk the dogs, or enjoy the season. In fact, the world out there is enormous….how did it all get boiled and distilled down to a culture addicted to doomscrolling?
I have no answers to any of this. While I have my share of strongly held opinions, I also know my opinions make little difference. There’s a well-known cliche about opinions and how “everyone has them”. While I wish that everyone would just listen to me, and do as I say…the world would be better off, right? I’m not so arrogant to forget that 7.5 billion people on the planet all enjoy their own opinion and in a sense, everyone and no one is “right”.
The term doomscrolling had me think about my business….the business of the Huckleberry Press. Should we politicize and pay more attention to the “important” issues of the day? Or should we stay on our current course of lighter reading, entertainment and Chuckleberries? We are basically Switzerland. The left and the right have equal voice at the Huckleberry Press. Getting gloomy and doomy would probably get us more eyeballs…and we might lose our soul in the process. (I would like to see people write more letters to the editor!)
The Huckleberry Press is here to bring people together. We are here to encourage creativity and to illuminate what’s working, what’s worth visiting, and what is special about Eastern Washington and the Columbia Basin. Are our articles “important” in terms of swaying the political winds…not so much. Team Huckleberry hopes to represent a familiar and friendly face in a sea of frowns and difficulty. We hope to give you a respite from the drama so easily found in other venues. Doomscrolling isn’t possible with the Huckleberry Press because we’re old school…you have to physically turn the pages using both hands and read up and down, in columns. The thoughtful words you read are meant to make you feel a little better about life, to give you something you recognize as “normal” and present one less challenge to your day. The articles are likely written by a neighbor you haven’t yet met. After doomscrolling Facebook for 20 minutes, it feels like there are a bunch of people shouting at each other in my brain. Hopefully, for you, the discussion in your head after reading the Huckleberry Press is peaceful and content.
Hopefully these particular sentences find you relaxed and happy. Hopefully you aren’t worn down by a day of doomscrolling. Will we get through this? Likely, one way or another. In the meantime, thanks for spending some time with us. It’s nice to spend some quiet time with you.