“Doom Scroll” Featured in today’s New York Times Crossword Puzzle.
For those of you who are fortunately unhinged, the term refers to the habit of endlessly staring at your social media feeds, filled with fear about the state of the world. However, car accidents are short-lived. The Doomscroll is like staring at the rubble every day knowing that a nearby building has collapsed.
This practice is especially acute on Twitter, and for complicated reasons, future history books will undoubtedly be summed up in the paragraph “What were they thinking?” In the last few days, well-known billionaire Elon Musk may begin taking over the platform, deregulating content and perhaps even increasing political advertising.
It takes a special kind of idiot to think that would make Twitter a better place. Unfortunately, Musk is just that kind of idiot.
These changes are terrible for many reasons, but one jumps at me. It’s a perplexing belief that having more politics in our lives is a good thing. Politics is horrible for your mental health. Activism is a good thing. Good social awareness. Politics is a flawed, toxic, little-needed evil, between fiction (oops, “The West Wing” fooled us) and non-fiction (oops, Ted Turner broadcasts the news 24 hours a day. decided to kill democracy) is a game of clowns heightened by
Problems have weight and importance. It is important that people understand the problem. Personal dedication to the cause is very important. Politics is neither.
Politics is the roar of political advertising without substance. Politics is the flag on the back of the truck. Politics is deception at best and sedition at worst. This country has seen politics metastasize to a toxic lifestyle. Until an unwitting partisan joins an increasingly violent cult of absurdity, and friends and neighbors fall prey to lame conspiracy theories.
Last week, because of politics, a man broke into his house and beat an old man with a hammer. Two and a half years ago, a bunch of men broke into the Capitol to hang the Vice President.
It is important, even imperative, for each of us to be constantly aware of the country around us, decide what to believe and vote accordingly. The framers of the U.S. Constitution have never trusted and cared more for the American people than when they believed that we would vote faithfully according to our thoughtful and rational convictions. Our highest duty as citizens was not, and never was, patriotism. It was a consistency of principle.
Unfortunately, many have confused that obligation with the feeling that they must remain politically focused. We turn on the unstoppable news network. News networks inevitably have to fuel our ire in order to keep their sponsors satisfied, and then become convinced that the new threat presented every hour is urgent. We buy books with the goal of developing a case that supports our favorite politicians and against our rivals. and voraciously devour stories about what each candidate said about the other candidate.
And we doom-scroll — we stare, read, like, and retweet politics in its crudest form, knowing it’s bad for us and yet we can’t stop.
All who profit from Musk, cable networks, and politics know that there are a lot of people who are into this product. That said, perhaps we are rushing towards a big generational breaking point. The young people I know are very active, but not particularly political.
More importantly, they gave up on Facebook and Twitter. By the way, they didn’t even get a cable news channel.
Maybe in a few decades America will be able to drop the habit and get back to the problem. In the last few years alone, we’ve all done enough politics in our lifetimes. It’s time to consider cold turkey.