Since the November 2020 election, I have been compulsively checking several online news networks several times a day. I recognize this is my primitive brain at work, scanning for perceived threat or danger. It’s like my brain just “needs” to know what’s going on — primarily in the US — so I check multiple news networks several times a day thinking that by doing so I will have a more complete understanding of the level of the rhetoric in the world. I realize I don’t have any control over what is being said by others, or the manner in which things are being said, but a part of me checks the news with the hope that I’ll find more evidence of the country desiring unity instead of division, discord and hate. I often find myself scrolling the news for large chunks of time — well beyond the time I intended. This leads to feeling defeated about the state of the country (and the world), negative thoughts about social media and instantaneous news reporting, and guilt for the time wasted on doomscrolling instead of things I planned.
I’ve since implemented simple measures to limit my access to the news for now. I still feel the pull to check the news at times throughout the day, but for the most part I’ve been able to drastically limit the time I spend scrolling.
Now that I’ve had some separation, I see that part of the compulsion to check the news regularly rather than just blocking myself from the news altogether is I feel guilty for saying, “The news is affecting my nervous system. I’m going to limit my intake because it’s clearly not serving me.” My brain offers me the thought, “But if you block the news, you’re protecting yourself while others don’t have that choice (e.g., those reporting the news, those whose suffering is the subject of the news, people who follow the news because they are fighting injustice they see, etc.). It’s like I feel I’m not being an empathetic human if I choose to limit my news intake.
I realize this is a convoluted thought pattern and one that certainly doesn’t serve me. I know my staying “up to date” on the news doesn’t alleviate the suffering of others.
I would welcome unraveling this thought error or some advice on what I could be thinking instead.