Urban Dictionary defines Doomscrolling as “Obsessively reading social media posts about how utterly fucked we are.” Yeah, doomscrolling the digital language is so romantic. Something inspired, destructive, obsessed, Kurt Cobain-level dark about it.
“Doomscrolling is scrolling through Twitter in 2020 becoming sadder the further through you scroll. There is no end.” That’s later on the same page.
Business Insider ran an article in April, “Staying up late reading scary news? There’s a word for that: ‘doomscrolling'”. The number of movies and electronic games using “doom” as a key concept, is stunning. As an example, the Game Engine Black Book — “learn how DOOM changed the gaming industry and became a legend among video games.”
The metaverse of new words
Ok, two things: doomscrolling is not a new skill, it is a new coinage from the social media metaverse. In this case, algorithms select our news feed content; and they learn and revise continually. They offer us what we like. We open something, they give us more of it. Our content changes based on how much time we spend on something.
We are not really reading the news. Copies of what we’ve read before are given to us. The digital fabric feeds us pablum the algorithm thinks will keep us engaged. The ooze, the digital pap, engages our attention. And wallets.
The term “doomscrolling” is witty, it’s narcissistic, it’s cinematic; it seems somehow significant. It gives a special status to our collective interaction with devices — that relationship earns its own language and terminology. There is something adventurous and self-deprecating in it.
(Which reminds me: we just published a piece featuring a great mini-survival tool, the VSLL Compact Survival Tool — 40 pieces of indispensable functionality for outdoor adventure, read it here.)
Inventing new languages
About 3 years ago a Facebook AI was terminated because it invented its own language. That may sound more ominous than it should. (But humans don’t like competition in the language-creating space.) The taste of doom is addictive, something delicious in it. AI’s don’t have such complex motivations. We give them preferences for the game, that is it.
What is more important is that as we know, languages are not static. They evolve. The internet, digital technology and social media in particular are introducing new words into English at a higher pace than anyone expected.
These new words are often not names for objects, but they are words for how we relate to the new universe. “Doomscrolling” is made possible by digital content but it is about us and our behavior. We like doomscrolling the digital language. Something dark in it. We know there is something risky in it, but we want the new tool. It could be humorous, fatalistic, analytical, romantic — all depending on how someone sees their own behavior.