Ramblings and Ravings: Doomscrolling
"Eat, Your Highness.”
“Everything tastes like doom,” he whispered.
“Then add salt.”
Leigh Bardugo, King of Scars
Ahh, blogging, you old temptress. I’ve sworn of you and then came crawling back more times than I care to admit.
There was a blog about my time in Texas, then a brief and disastrous foray into political blogging, a microblog (not sure what that meant, even now) and finally, a reasonably successful blog hosting publishers and writers. All of them, gone, run their course, and hastily forgotten.
So why am I again?
What madness has driven me back to the blogging game?
Simply put: I need somewhere to expunge all my weird, nonsensical thoughts and musings – my Ramblings and Ravings. Otherwise, I’ll drive myself, my friends, my family, and, more importantly, my wife, insane with unhinged rants and erratic moods.
So, here we are.
As for what this new blog might be about going forward? Everything and nothing. The tag is ramblings and ravings, and that’s what you should expect. Just whatever comes into my mind or whatever I need to get off my chest.
Anyway, now that I’ve explained myself (poorly), let’s move on to the actual topic. Doomscrolling. I imagine a lot of you will have heard of the term. It’s not particularly new. I think it made an appearance a few years ago, so it might have already slipped out of use, but it aptly describes how I, until very recently, spent my time online, chiefly on social media.
And, man, it is so easy. You open your apps and peruse the millions of tweets and posts and pictures, and videos…. on and on… and on and on… never-ending. For me, that wouldn’t be a problem if I had spent the time reading harmless nonsense – although that does have its negatives as well because the mediocrity melts your brain – but I didn’t do that. No, I went straight to politics and the news like the fool that I am.
I know what you’re thinking: rookie move. And it is. I’ve had at least one social media account since 2008 (14 years!?) In theory, I should have learnt to use it wisely in the interim. And on and off, I sometimes do. But more recently, I had delved too greedily and too deep (yes, that is a LOTR quote.) For me, it was like an obsession, or, more likely, an addiction. I had grown addicted to the doom and gloom, bouncing from one awful news or political article to the next, endlessly bombarding myself into submission, until I was numb and despondent with it.
Politics, in particular, is a big problem for me, akin to wallowing in the mire. I tortured myself with it, and it had just become too much. It had started to negatively affect my moods, causing me to be grumpy and argumentative (of course, that still happens, just slightly less now.) It even affected my writing, which was the final straw. That was when I realised that I needed to do something about it.
This is where my sobriety came in. When I quit booze, I learnt a secret truth. That you can change. The “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” concept is complete nonsense. You have to WANT to change, and then act upon it. It’s hard, of course, but then isn’t everything that’s worthwhile? Rome wasn’t built in a day, I think, or whatever. Do or do not. There is no try. (And yes, that is a Star Wars quote - doubling the geekery.)
And so, like the caterpillar that transforms into the butterfly, I changed. I realised that you have to treat yourself as if you’re a kid. You have to be both the patient parent and the unruly child. I have to set myself rules, restrictions, or else I run rampant. Basically, I have a healthy distrust of myself. I can be reckless, and very much was so in the past, and if I don’t keep an eye on myself, I can get out of control. (To prove this point, I once became dangerously addicted to pistachios and used to frequently eat a large bag in one go.)
Doomscrolling, which on the face of it can be fairly harmless, became a problem for me. So, I’ve set myself a loose hour window every day – roughly 5 pm weekday, 12 noon weekend – and I try and avoid all social media apps until then. That leaves the day for writing, freelancing, and whatever else. I can check in with the world in the evening (the weekend is a bit more cavalier.)
And what did I find out? What revelation was unearthed from this new, glittering regime? Basically, I can catch up very quickly and efficiently in that one hour! Where before I spent all day dicking about, I only ever needed 60 minutes, sometimes not even that. I’ve freed up hours of time, and space in my head, for creativity, and my motivation has skyrocketed since (hence, this blog.)
So, in short, I’ve restricted how much I allow myself online, and the benefits are incredible. I’m not one of those who believe the internet causes all the world’s ills. The thing itself isn’t all bad, but it’s how we treat and use it that can cause the problems. I had settled into some bad habits, one in a long line of them, and I’ve now found a way to cope, without cutting myself off entirely. I think a lot of people might benefit from that same kind of thinking. I know I have.
So, bye-bye Doomscrolling.
Let’s hope I stick with it this time!
Thanks for reading whatever this was.
Elliot J Harper
Rambler and Raver, Writer of Madness, and, more importantly, Author of the soon-to-be-released New Gillion Street by Fly on the Wall Press.
(Funnily enough, the above-mentioned book, which debuts in December, by the way (hint, hint), is basically my take on the dangers of politics, especially of the right-wing variety, and what it can do to an otherwise harmonious community, how it can rip it apart. It only took me five years to take my own advice.)