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Are you empty-scrolling again?

How many times on an average day do you erratically scroll through your screen without any specific purpose or motive?


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  29 Jan 2023 4:46 AM GMT

Sampreeti Bhuyan

How many times on an average day do you erratically scroll through your screen without any specific purpose or motive? Well, empty-scrolling, otherwise known as Zombie scrolling, is a phenomenon that states about the act of unconscious, mindless scrolling through social media or other online platforms. Research shows that "in a single day, the average person scrolls through 300 feet of content- the height of the Statue of Liberty".

The root cause behind it is the constant need for stimulation and the fear of missing out (FOMO) among people. In this era of social media, people can frequently find themselves spending hours with their eyes glued to their phones. Social media platforms are designed to be addictive with their features and algorithms, and ultimately, people fall prey to them. Another reason for it is boredom, people turn to their phones or laptops when they have nothing different to do, and before the realization strikes, they had spent hours scrolling through their feeds. This has a huge impact on a person's social, psychological, and emotional health. It not only affects an individual but also the society at large as such behavioural changes also suppress authentic and real conversations and that creates an interference with the world outdoors. There is no wrong with watching a few videos, scrolling through memes, or connecting with friends on social media. It only becomes a problem when spending the time doing so, keeps one away from doing things that one should actually be doing.

According to consultant in neuropsychology Susan Weinschenk, "the reason we can't stop scrolling on our app feeds may be a dopamine-seeking reward loop". This act of scrolling is related to the release of dopamine that arouses one to seek further information; hence, the human brain feels a sense of satisfaction every time one finds relatable content, which results in nonstop scrolling. This infinite scrolling act is similar to that of addiction to alcohol and drugs. Regardless of this dark side to the Internet, human beings spend more time on their phones than they should despite its consequences.

In addition to negatively affecting an individual's mental health and well-being, scrolling disorder also damages their physical health. One could suffer from depression, anxiety, bad sleep schedules, or even low self-esteem. In 2012, neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer stated that "the overuse of digital technology results in the breakdown of cognitive abilities, which is termed as Digital Dementia". According to the research, technology has brought about a drastic change in how we seek, store and recall information. Moreover, nowadays people are easily carried away with whatever is shown on the Internet, they start comparing their lives with the curated and filtered versions of other people's lives, which leaves them with dissatisfaction. Additionally, scrolling with no content can affect concentration and productivity as well.

However, the main question is how a person can recover from this vicious cycle of scrolling. For a start, rather than having a look at every notification that pops, one can turn off notifications on social media and other non-essential apps, this would automatically bring about a visible change in the amount of time spent on their phones. To make it happen, and to free oneself of it, an individual has to have control over their mind primarily. They should be aware of what they are searching for rather than scrolling mindlessly, there should be a specific reason or motive. People should be mindful of the topic or the type of content they are engaging themselves with. Another effective way to get over this scrolling addiction is to set limits on the amount of time spent on social media or other online platforms. There are dozens of apps that are being launched which can help one to cut back their screen time, and engage themselves with other activities. Setting boundaries would result in reconnecting with oneself and the people around them.

This habit became more prominent during the time of the Covid -19 pandemic as people were confined at their places and most of the work was done online, people started to form a strong connection with the digital world. But now it's time to think differently and, bring a change to this act. And if you are a victim of it, then with a little mindfulness and self-control, you can break free from this circle of endless scrolling.

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