Somewhere in 2010 the world converged on the feed as the means of consuming content. It was perfect. At first it was chronological, then they figured out? Why does it have to be in order? Lets make it based on what people want to see? And better yet? Let’s put ads inbetween that barely look like ads! And so… SMS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. all in a row, all designed to scroll.
Then with everyone on on mobile… and internet ubiquitus… the act of scrolling became the modern equivalent of channel surfing… endless searching for something to watch… endless needs to stop us from boredom… endless time preventing us from doing the things we should be doing.
Before I began this post, I had been scrolling thru Twitter, Facebook or Instagram…looking for something? God knows what? A new picture? A funny video? Another salacious thing for me to respond to? In the current climate… it’s just doom scrolling…. are we at war? Is Trump destroying something? Is something awful somewhere happening? Not sure what is so goddamn compelling about it, but it is.
The ubiquitous nature of following data in the technology world – active sessions, views, time spent, interactions, comments, bounce rate, time between sessions, return rate, DAU, MAU, ARPDAU, all the things that encompass the umbrella term “engagement” has created a world of apps and interactions that act as a slot machine.
I don’t think it was intentional, or planned, but we’re interacting with a dopamine release system so powerful that we’ll never get off it.
We doom scroll because our brains are wired for it. We doom scroll because bad news and dangerous information is more important that happy, safe, good news. Humans are not that far removed from the plains of East Africa and we need to make sure we aren’t going to get killed. So bad news travels fast… and our brains are wired for more. The doom scroll machines are there to help us make sure we’re not going to die (if we were actually in danger, which we aren’t) The problem is…. we are safe. We’re on our couches and have the best lives we’ve ever had….but this device and our brains are telling us…. doom is around the corner!
If I am lucky, many of you will read this post because you saw it on a feed and thought hey, what is Laurent going to say….
We all need to wake up. Our brains are fried, and we need to get off the doom scroll machines and write, hug our kids, talk to friends and be the other versions of humans – community.