by Jon Biddle
I was mindlessly scrolling through my phone the other day, slavishly checking the same three apps; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over and over again. Suddenly it hit me, what a boring experience, it was like an epiphany, It was if I realised for the first time what mindless pile a tosh I was looking at. I was either being told that Trump was the devil incarnate, the western world was effectively being run by demagogues, the health service was on its last knees, Covid was going to kill me all while some thin dude said that if I followed his fitness plan, I’d shed all the excess weight I was carrying in three months.
Social media holds such promise and potential, where did the opportunity for noting the good in the world go? When did it become de-rigour to fill the ether with a load of shit that either makes you feel like shit, look like shit or speak a load of shit? The worst part is that as a writer, I find the best way to tap into the psychology of the reader is for me to address the negativity and darkness in the world around. It would be impossible to me to manipulate the readers emotions or bring to life their greatest fears without myself endlessly consuming the feed of hate, fear and confusion like a goose being fattened for foie gras.
There must be an academic point of view on this and when I scratched the surface of the academic pages I browsed, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s called ‘Doom scrolling.’ Scrolling through endless negativity isn’t very good for you both mentally and spiritually. Ingesting this constant feed of peoples negative opinions, the news media filling your mind with scare tactics and hysteria while people that you would never in a month of Sunday’s interact with measure it all up. Remember CAmbridge Analytica? How they used social media feeds to influence our way of thinking. What you have to remember here is they got caught, let that percolate for a second.
The social media feeds are not just filled with the fear of the virus, and yes, we should be a little worried about the virus. But what augments this melancholy is the racial hatred, the political biases, the threat to the western worlds security, its endless, and all of this can have an effect. We love it though, the hate, the negativity, we’re inextricably drawn to the negative. Our brain is hardwired to the bad stuff in the world because it’s this mechanism that keeps us safe. On some level, we can influence the negativity, but in reality, that’s not possible. I once attended a leadership course in healthcare. We circle in two spheres on influence. One we can change and one we can’t. The one we can change we should make every effort to change, the sphere that we can’t change, we should ignore it or go with it, weather would a circle of influence we cant change conversely, the information we govern ourselves that we permit to listen and ingest is a circle of influence you have every ability to change.
But doom scrolling is something that we have zero influence over. It’s a circle of influence that we are powerless to change. How can you solve the health services burgeoning crisis of surgical waiting lists while trying to logistically maintain a good Covid presence? How can you change the mindset of Donald Trump and the racist/facist that he breaths oxygen into? The bottom line is you can’t, so why force yourself to take it all in and hinder your mental health?
Has doom scrolling been effecting you? The recent manifestation of anxiety and depression could be a sign of doom scrollings effect on your psychology. You need to take a step back, breathe and check your feeds. Leave some of the grounds that you like, even better, uninstall that social media outlet just for one week to split test your happiness.
One perfect remedy to all this is escaping from the dark real world into a world of your choosing, just as dark and filled with fear, but with the knowledge you are safe. Or more importantly, without the distressing feeling that you need to do something to help. This is why we have been using this year to read more books or listen to more podcasts, we need to escape more than ever. You can still feed your addiction to negativity and horror with The Harvester or The ‘I HATE This Book’ Podcast, there for those who, like me, need to relinquish the power to make a change and instead accept that not all fates can be changed.
Don’t forget to check out the Patreon page too, contribute to the creative process of my writing, check me out on this link.
As you know I have returned to my day job, or night job depending on which way you look at it and the amount of work required to maintain my author business is pretty exhaustive. So Along with Ethan who manages the blogs, I have employed my daughter Devon, who is much cleverer than me to handle the social media footprint of my author world. It is still the same content, the same Jon Biddle and my distaste of narcissist and their politics. But I can now spend the free time I have focused on my next story or research rather than worrying about algorithms and engagement.
I wanted to become an author because I loved to write, I knew I had stories to tell and I knew the world would want to hear them. While the internet and global connectivity make it easier for people to pursue something independently, in exchange it needs your time, and lots of it. Time that a full time professional doesn’t always have, so I had to make changes to the way I worked to give myself more time to create what you want from me. I’m here to write books, writing newsletters and social media posts is what I need to do to allow more people to read the books I write.
It reminds me of the phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Having this team and support around me means I am able to take an idea, nurture it, watch it grow and put it out into the world. In other aspects of your life and work, a supportive and cooperative team can make the difference between success and failure, which is why I’m so lucky to have that in all aspects of my life.
Episode 30 of the Podcast is out today, if you still don’t know what The ‘I HATE This Book’ Podcast is about, it is where I chat to Sam, my wife about my published book The Harvester, a book she has a deep dislike for thanks to it’s violent and gory content. Also this week, to be published this Wednesday the next Minisode. Hear Sam and I chat about Otto Moll, most will not have heard of this creature. I’m not exaggerating on this, but if Moll was held directly responsible for all the people that he murdered, he would have run into the millions. He was of course, the commander of crematorium V in Auscwitz-Birkenau. The reason why I have chosen Moll as one of my killers is because the level of sadism he employed while in charge of the gas chambers. He took the cruelty of the Nazi ideology to an entirely different level. Check out the podcast this coming Wednesday, short story to be posted on Patreon.