How We’re Fighting Back Against Doomscrolling

MC: Nice.

LG: One of the more popular suggestions came from some guy named Walt Mossberg. Does anyone know movies?

AW: Hmm.

MC: (Laughs) Don’t be coy.

LG: Yes. Walt is my former boss and a dear friend and mentor. He says, “Watch old TV comedies you like, and either keep the phone out of reach or ration your phone use.” So the common thread line I found with many of these suggestions, Mike, is what you were suggesting, is that people weren’t saying get rid of screens. They were suggesting diversions on the screens. There were lots of votes for Kindle, so you can read but not be tempted to scroll social media. Someone chimed in and said, “Try doom-bingeing on Netflix instead.” That was Melanie Ensign. So you’re still watching a screen, but instead you’re watching Netflix. Nicole Nguyen, who we know from The Wall Street Journal, said, “Try joy-scrolling through pre-Covid camera roll,” and then it had a crying face emoji.

MC: Yikes.

LG: So you’re still on your screens, but maybe you are doing something that feels a little bit more joyful from the before times. Other people, though, did have kind of a more severe approach—like Cecilia D’Anastasio from our team said, “I deleted Twitter off my phone, and it has done wonders.” Nick Thompson, our editor in chief, replied and said, “Same,” so I think this means we have official permission from Nick to not be on Twitter, if I understand that correctly. Our colleague, Kara Platoni, said, “You have to hide one and only one of these things under the bed: (1) phone, or (2) yourself.” So just throw yourself under the bed if you can’t get away from screens.

Then another person, Simone Giertz, who happened to be on our WIRED cover in January of this year, said, “Text me and ask me to tell you to stop.” She said in a follow-up tweet that that has worked for her, that when she texts people and says, “Please tell me to stop scrolling,” and then someone says, “Stop scrolling,” she does. Maybe at that point you have a conversation with a friend instead of doomscrolling on Twitter or Instagram or anywhere else. So, those were just some solutions I crowdsourced from the internet and honestly, they all sound better than doomscrolling. I would even take doom-bingeing on Netflix over doomscrolling, so maybe I need to try some of these.

AW: Well, and to speak to that, having a friend text you to stop. I do have to give credit to Karen Ho, a reporter at Quartz who was one of the inspirations behind this piece, because every night at about … I usually see it at 11 pm, midnight my time, but I’m not sure exactly when she sends it out, because now Twitter shoots things back up, up and forth, but she just tweets around sleep time every night, “Hey, are you doomscrolling?” I see that in my feed and I’m like, “Thank you, Karen. Appreciate that,” and then I look for another 10 to 15 and then I put my phone down.

LG: That’s a good friend.

AW: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

LG: All right, we’re going to take another quick break, when we come back, we’re going to do recommendations that may … quite honestly, may put you back on screens. We’ll be right back.

[Break]

LG: Time for recommendations, Angela, what’s yours this week?

AW: So mine is the HBO series I May Destroy You. The creator, writer, director, show runner, star, genius extraordinaire, Michaela Coel, she’s somebody I’ve loved since she had a show called Chewing Gum that was originally in the UK and then landed on Netflix a couple of years ago. But her new show, I May Destroy You, is just so smart and raw, and it’s kind of this unblinking look at a young woman putting together the pieces of the night that she was drugged and sexually assaulted. It kind of does this unlinear thing of going back and forth in time, and having you sort of learn things as she remembers them and as she deals with them. It’s just so well written and really extremely, extremely well done. To the point of the entire discussion we’ve had so far, there are times when it is hard to watch, but I think it’s hard to watch in a way that a lot of people need to see. So yeah. There was a great profile of her in New York Magazine, so if you want to know more about how she came up with the show and how she brought it to life, it’s a really good read. Apparently Netflix offered her a million dollars, and she said no, because they wouldn’t give her enough creative control.

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #wired https://www.wired.com/story/gadget-lab-podcast-463