It usually starts with a disheartening tweet. Fixated on the screen in your hand, you look up at another post, and then another. Feeling angry and hopeless, you stay up thumbing through grainy phone-captured photos and headlines on social media — maybe about the spike in coronavirus cases or the cratering economy — which enrage you even more. Hooked, you feel compelled to read all of them, without realising that you are slowly sinking into an emotional quicksand. Now a bundle of anxiety, you are committing what modern experts call “doomscrolling”.
Coined during the coronavirus outbreak, the new word refers to the habit of spending an inordinate amount of time on devices poring over depressing news. Experts believe that we doomscroll because we have been cajoled into believing that we are able to exert control over bad news. But the fact is, the phenomenon is caused by a tangled relationship between human survival instincts and technological design, which has been amplified by the ongoing pandemic.
Mary McNaughton-Cassill, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, explains that this has a lot to do with our primal instincts. Our brains are wired to scan for threats (historically, this might have meant poisonous fruits or a vicious rival tribe), which makes us seem more “predisposed to pay attention to negative than positive things”. In modern times, this coping mechanism of equipping ourselves with knowledge of distressing news helps put us on high alert to fend off any physical peril.
The infinite scroll design on sites and apps also makes bingeing on doom-and-gloom stories even more irresistible. The solution to breaking the cycle, however, is to consciously regulate your media intake. Here are some neat tricks to wean yourself off living in a hamster wheel of news consumption, bad or otherwise.
Walk on sunshine
Feeling cooped up? Head outdoors. The new multi-sport Garmin fēnix 6 Pro Solar (RM4,199) harnesses the power of the sun to remain performance-ready for weeks, allowing you to hike, mountain climb or surf without having to recharge your device often. Bolstering an already impressive specs sheet is the Advanced Sleep Monitoring feature, which provides a detailed breakdown of your sleeping pattern to improve a good night’s rest.
Stay tuned but keep the noise out
If browsing the web has become the default work break, immerse yourself in music. The newly launched wireless Samsung Galaxy Buds Live (RM699) with noise cancellation function has an ergonomic design that reflects the curve of the ear so they sit comfortably in your concha. Sporting a 12mm speaker that delivers rich sound and deep bass, the buds can be integrated with Spotify, connecting to all your favourite playlists instantly.
See the world through a new lens
Photography has become a balm amid corona claustrophobia, as evidenced by the global outpouring of digital imagery on Instagram. However, you can make your visual life even richer with the new Fujifilm X-T4. The company’s flagship mirrorless camera, with in-body image stabilisation, boasts excellent video-recording capabilities (4K clips at up to 60fps and a maximum bitrate of 400Mbps) and a rear touchscreen LCD that flips out to the side, letting you see yourself when taking selfies.
Create a den of zen
It is not an exaggeration to call the second edition of the Muse headband a gift for a sound mind. The electroencephalography (EEG) device uses advanced signal processing to interpret your mental activity while you play meditating games on an accompanying app. The brain-sensing wearable also provides live feedback, so if you find your focus drifting, a soundtrack of stormy weather cues you to bring attention back to your breath.
Explore alternate universes
Good things come in small packages, and the Sega Genesis Mini (RM329) does an honourable job of preserving a beloved console. A true love letter to retro-loving gamers, the definitive video game console of the 1990s is preloaded with 42 Sega Genesis classics such as Shinobi III, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Streets of Rage 2, doubling that of the Super Nintendo Classic Mini.
Draw a line between work and play
Because ordinary laptops are too predictable, Lenovo has created the ThinkBook Plus (RM5,849) with dual purposes: Apart from the 13.3in main screen, the device features a secondary 10.8in display with e-Ink technology for users to sketch, illustrate, jot notes and even annotate PDF files. The Modern Standby mode ensures that emails and updates are received, even when the laptop lid is closed.
Put on a good show
If you are still wary about going to the cinema, invest in a TV that replicates the magic of theatrical experience. The LG 4K Smart Self-Lit OLED TV with AI ThinQ (RM10,999), with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, lets you indulge in your favourite blockbusters in their high-definition glory. With the LG ThinQ technology, you can command the TV to search for shows, change settings or manage your virtual assistants. Unfortunately, ordering popcorn is still not possible.
This article first appeared on Aug 17, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.