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Going from Doom-scrolling to God-scrolling

 August 25, 2021

Like many others during the past year and a half, I’ve found myself obsessively searching out and reading bad news—doom-scrolling. It’s like watching a train-wreck, unable to turn away. Lately I’ve been asking myself—Is there a way to go from doom-scrolling to God-scrolling?

What Is Doom-scrolling?

Doom-scrolling or doom-surfing, is the tendency to continue to surf or scroll through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening, or depressing, Merriam-Webster says. It seems our brains seek out negative news. It’s a way of defending ourselves from dangerous situations. As Ken Yeager, PhD, a psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, stated in an article on Health.com: “We are all hardwired to see the negative and be drawn to the negative because it can harm us physically.” Yeager “cites evolution as the reason for why humans seek out the negatives—if your ancestors learned all about how [insert scary ancient creature here] could injure them, they could avoid that fate.” (What Is Doomscrolling? Why it Happens, How to Stop | Health.com)

It’s all about control. We think that if we can just find the right information, we can control a bad situation.  “People have a question, they want an answer, and assume getting it will make them feel better,” Thea Gallagher, PsyD, clinic director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perlman School of Medicine says. “You keep scrolling and scrolling. Many think that will be helpful, but they end up feeling worse afterward.”

Doom-scrolling can be addictive. Like most addictions it leaves us feeling miserable, anxious, depressed, angry, frustrated, and isolated.

What is God-scrolling?

God-scrolling is taking all the negative events you are following online and looking for where God is present. Where doom-scrolling leaves you depressed, God-scrolling helps you find peace in the situation. It requires you to sit in compassion with those who are suffering, experience helplessness and powerlessness, trusting in God.

Often when confronted with negative situations that threaten to overwhelm us, we either retreat, pretend they don’t exist, or we over-focus on them under the illusion we can control them. Neither option is good. We don’t want to bury our head in the sand in the face of so much tragedy, but we also don’t want to be overwhelmed and despair. God-scrolling helps us find the right balance. Sometimes we want to rush to action, but if we are God-scrolling we try to see the situation as God sees it. We sit with God and God’s people, feeling their pain, and not rushing to action unless after deliberation and prayer we determine that is what God wants us to do. We don’t ignore reality, but invite a greater reality into the situation. By doing this, we turn our doom-scrolling into a prayer.

Is It Possible to Go from Doom-scrolling to God-scrolling?

It can be hard to look at all that is happening in the world, not just with the coronavirus. There are horrific images coming from Afghanistan, yet another earthquake in already hard-hit Haiti, flooding and fires in America. So much that would lead us to despair. With God though, we find the ability to pray for those who are suffering and gain wisdom that can lead us to make effective change rather than just reaching for our pocketbooks and giving money to alleviate our own suffering.

Amid the horrific pictures coming out of Afghanistan, I see American soldiers holding babies, giving food and water to children, helping families, acting as God’s hands in this situation. I’m reminded that sometimes in the most devastating circumstances, all we can do is extend a helping hand to those near us. That is enough. We are doing God’s work.

Can we go from doom-scrolling to God-scrolling? Yes. All it takes is for us to invite God into our online searches. We pray for those involved and pray for the ability to see the situation as God sees it, not with our limited vision. We allow ourselves to experience the pain God experiences when we, God’s people, are hurting and not living according to God’s will. Not necessarily easy, but it can be done.

What do you think? Can you do it?

 


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