Why every year-but especially 2020-feels like the worst ever - Deepstash

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Our addiction to bad news

Our addiction to bad news

If every year feels like the worst, it's mostly because our brains tend to judge the present more harshly. Indiscriminately watching the news skews our perception and makes us more prone to slip into unhealthy patterns.

Many of us become obsessed with the world's seemingly increasing danger. We can't stop checking narratives of the deadly diseases, police brutality, protests, conspiracy theories, and politics, even if it is halfway around the world.

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Our negative interpretation of current events

In Western culture, people tend to interpret current events negatively, while we tend to remember the positive experiences of the past.

Frightening things have happened in the past too and before the current pandemic, the majority of Americans already believed the country was going downhill.

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Doomscrolling and social media

  • According to a 2017 survey, respondents who consumed excessive news reported lost sleep, stress, anxiety, and fatigue.
  • In 1968, a study found a direct correlation between time spent watching television and the likelihood that the watcher will perceive the world more dangerous. Viewers who watch violent television shows generally believe violence is common in reality.

However, the effects of media aren't always negative. It depends on the medium of consumption and how you use it. Actively engaging in positive conversations with friends and family can have a positive effect. Lurking or scrolling through updates without engaging has a negative psychological impact.

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Controlling our biases towards the present

While we may never see the present as perfect, we can learn to control our biases.

  • Acknowledge how the media shifts our perceptions. It can make the present look worse than in the past.
  • Take a realistic view of history and compare it with the present.
  • Take stock in what we do have. We are making progress socially and scientifically, a feat that would have been impossible a hundred years ago.

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