HYDERABAD: Did you know of a term called doomsurfing, where we tend to browse through depressing news despite it talking a toll on our mental health? The constant social media feed on disease and death can increase our despair and have effects on our physical health too. But why do we engage in this behavior? Dr Pragya Rashmi, consultant psychologist, says: “Whenever there is an unpredictable incident that leads to distress, or has elements of the unknown, people start seeking information out of curiosity. There is no agency that is giving us clarity on information.
If there was some government agency or any other source which could provide clear, verified and validated information, then there i s no scope of this happening. As people jump from one source to another, they resort to doomsurfing to find out the truth.” Baijesh Ramesh, a clinical psychologist at Chetana Hospital in Secunderabad, says that there is an evolutionary angle to doomsurfing. “Our ancestors survived rough situations because of their ability to think.
Their thinking capabilities were used for two functions primarily – to avoid pain and to maximise pleasure. They had to keep anything dangerous or threatening at bay. That is why, we have our antennae up always to detect any possible threat to existence. This pandemic is now posing a existential challenge to the human race. That is why, many indulge in doomsurfing.”
Pragya adds: “It can lead to feelings of despair and helplessness, and mood changes. People might start hoarding more in panic and feel more anxious. They can experience physical manifestations of anxiety-like panic attacks, sleep issues, eating disorders which affects life and relationships. Restrict your internet usage,” she adds.
Tired of the news? Here are a few alternatives ways to engage yourself online:
- Take a virtual tour of the the city through Hyderabad Trail’s online heritage walks.
- Talk a virtual walk through Kalakriti Gallery’s art exhibitions.
- Participate in Swarokti Online, a voice culture workshop hosted by classical vocalist Harini Rao.
- Take part in online events conducted by city cultural spaces like Lamkaan and Sacred Space.
- Volunteer with groups like Robinhood Army and Youngistaan Foundation to help the needy.
— Kakoli Mukherjee kakoli_mukherjee@newindianexpress. com @KakoliMukherje2