How to Minimize Facebook Doomscrolling
Or, how to stop letting Facebook control you
Facebook was supposed to be a way to keep in touch with family and friends. Now, it's a one-stop-shop for negativity and happiness-sucking content.
Did that oft-posted statement resonate with you? It's akin to what millions of Facebook users have been posting over the past few months. Some are taking a short leave, while others are leaving the platform entirely.
The coronavirus pandemic, protests and politics are ruling digital lives during a time it's more challenging to stay offline. I'd like to say social platforms are pulling all stops to steer us to greener pastures. But these networks rely on continuous traffic that drives advertising revenue.
If anything, companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram embrace controversy by rolling out new features to distract us, knowing they'll ultimately be used for the same purposes.
There's hope, though. It is possible to avoid doomscrolling - the self-destructive behavior of endlessly scrolling for catastrophic stories. We're all guilty of going down this rabbit hole, especially at night while lying in bed.
Doomscrolling, as its name implies, is bad for your emotional and physical health. It can breed depression and/or anxiety, and make us physically exhausted.
Your personality, goals and commitment level play a big role in how you deal with change. If you must delve into daily news updates, set a timer so you won't get sucked in too deep. And avoid external commentary, like comments on news posts, which are known for being riddled with debate.
Beyond that, here are some tips to minimize doomscrolling on a continual basis...
Politics? Just say no
Realize that the exhaustive process of sticking up for yourself takes a serious toll on your mental health. Shaming others for having different beliefs may make you feel good short-term, but the long-term effects aren't worth it. For many, political beliefs are a personal thing, and there's nothing wrong with that.
So, yeah, avoid the politics. If you think you're going to change people's minds by joining heated discussions - even if your goal is to be the calm voice of reason - you'll more than likely wind up disappointed.
Unfollow plenty of people
Facebook allows you to unfollow people, yet remain connected as friends. It's a mute feature, and your friends will never know you're not listening. You can also unfollow Facebook pages, and turn off notifications from groups.
When you unfollow a friend, you'll still see their comments on posts. However, their posts won't show up in your feed, which means you can go about your day without being triggered by what they say next.
If you don't want to unfollow indefinitely, you can opt to snooze people for 30 days at a time.
Change who sees your posts
Have some connections who love to hop on everything you post? Perhaps a negative Nancy? Change your post settings to 'Friends except...'. You can change this anytime and it will carry through future posts until you change it again.
I use this feature to ensure my mother-in-law doesn't see certain things we plan to surprise her with. I simply change to 'Public' or 'Friends' during the next post.
Bypass toxic groups
Many Facebook groups are filled with negativity. By muting or leaving ones that don't make you smile you set yourself up for a better experience. Trust me, even professional groups are not immune to today's events. That's why I have notifications turned off for nearly all of them.
Ignore or hide posts that are productive for your mindset
If it's not your thing? Don't be afraid to hide the ads you don't want to see. You can also hide types of posts by people you follow. They won't know you've hidden the content and they won't be punished by Facebook.
Make Facebook show you fun stuff
Facebook uses your activity to determine what shows up in your feed. If you engage with positive, humorous and uplifting posts? It's going to show you more of them. If you forego engaging with negative content, you'll see even more of the good stuff.
I know it's hard to not respond on some negative posts. Try as hard as you can, so Facebook will understand what you're there for.
Post positive stuff
Attract positive comments and posts by posting uplifting stories, videos, photos and memes. Use humor when appropriate. The idea is let others know the type of content you seek while Facebook's algorithms do their job.
Don’t leave thinking there are no alternatives
If you have the urge to leave Facebook, you’re not alone. But know that there are ways to combat the negative impact through various settings. Don’t feel forced to deal with controversy in order to share awesome moments with people you love.
We need to take control over what we see and hear on social media. By finding ways to avoid the gloom-and-doom, we can have the best of both worlds — real and virtual.
Maintaining a Facebook account isn't a good solution for everyone. Some personalities aren't able to avoid or handle certain types of content. So always do what's best for you.
Pamela Hazelton is an avid writer, marketer and business consultant. Her work has appeared in multiple print and online publications for the past 30 years. She runs the Small Biz Strong Substack and can be found regularly on Twitter.