Opinion | There are better things to do than doomscroll

By Raphael Ranola, Columnist

The 24-hour news cycle and the flurry of information that comes with it is a necessary evil. It’s important to be an informed citizen, but the weight of knowledge is a detriment to our mental health. After reading article upon article about injustice, war and broken political systems, it can be easy to fall victim to endless scrolling, which can lead to internalized feelings of worthlessness and nihilism —  a phenomenon referred to as doomscrolling

The solution is to recognize that it is a waste to expect our individual choices to change the world on a macro scale. Obviously, it is important to advocate for causes you believe in, but one person’s choice to go vegan or commit to a no-waste lifestyle is not going to single-handedly prevent climate change.  

Some even argue that the concept of a personal carbon footprint is a form of corporate “greenwashing” in order to place the blame of climate change on individual consumers and away from corporations who are responsible for the bulk of pollution, or on governments who fail to create legislation that curbs pollution.  

As kids, we were told that Gen Z was going to change the world for the better, undoing years of pollution and catastrophe brought on by our ancestors. That mindset, having been so ingrained in us, leads us to believe that our choices have more of an impact than they really do. Nobody should place the burden of the whole world upon their shoulders.  

You could say that Gen Z is changing the world. In a way, we are. Gen Z consistently votes in favor of progressive candidates and policies — we care about climate change quite a bit. The data shows that we are not the apolitical layabouts that the media typically portrays us as. 

The worldview of the most distressed doomscrollers — believing the end of civilization as we know it is nigh — is completely unfounded. It is my hope, at the very least, that as our generation continues to grow up and elect progressives like our own Maxwell Frost, we can fight the burden of a climate catastrophe that was forcibly tacked onto our shoulders. 

I’m not arguing that you should dance while the world crashes and burns. Rather, our focus should be on each other — on building connections and realizing there is more to life than compounding global catastrophes and a slow march to our doom. 

If you have the itch to improve the world, your focus should be on what you can do in the meantime — contributing to your community and to local causes where your voice and your actions have more impact.  

Around campus, students can volunteer their time to Students for Environmental Concerns and push the University to divest from fossil fuels. You could begin volunteering at a food bank, join an RSO or get involved in a mutual aid project to help disadvantaged members of the community. 

Solve one problem at a time by joining an organization that is campaigning for positive change on a singular topic you’re interested in, like rights for undocumented immigrants or paying graduate students higher wages.  

Making a positive impact doesn’t just have to materialize in the form of official volunteering. Checking up on your peers and creating interpersonal connections is infinitely valuable and combats the sense of helplessness and isolation that can be brought about by the endless, dizzying stream of bad news. 

The bottom line is that the world’s problems feel big when you take them in all at once. The stress becomes more manageable when you turn off your phone and get to work on things you can actually influence.

 

Raphael is a freshman in LAS.

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