Every year Dictionary.com adds some new words to its dictionary and often these new words are a clue into the state of our world at the time.
In the booming 1990’s we got “McMansion. After 9/11 in 2001, young men were feeling sensitive, anxious, and more apt to add the word “bro” to other words than they had in decades, giving birth to “bromance”.
So of course in 2020, the year from hell, the great villain of all years, dictionary.com added another new word that really fits: doomscrolling.
Noun Digital Technology
The practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Sound at all familiar? I doomscrolled so much in the early days of the pandemic that I developed thumb tightness and then had to do a search for an article possibly relating thumb tightness to coronavirus.
I love words and I’m always happy to have new ones to use, but there is something about this definition that doesn’t quite sit right with me. The terms “compulsion” and “self-perpetuating cycle” put the blame for doomscrolling entirely on the scroller. But what about those who create the doom for us to scroll? No one should be surprised when the media uses scare tactics, any snowstorm or tornado will display that their love for pushing doom knows no bounds. But the definition for doomscroller also says “especially on social media feeds” and those are the people who bother me.
They are much worse because they don’t do it for advertising dollars or to beat competitors in the ratings, they do it for the pure and unadulterated thrill that comes with depressing the hell out of other people.
These people are called Doomers.
We all have Doomers in our feeds. They weren’t born in the coronavirus. They’ve been there for years commenting with passive aggressive cheer under photos of people’s fat dogs: “Cute chonk! But just so you know he looks a little overweight! Did you know 54% of dogs get diabetes? It may also be worms. Better see a vet just in case! Lovely doggo regardless!” They also like tossing a little light shade on a viral video “This video is funny and all but does this guy not know how tinnitus works? You can’t get your hearing back once you lose it! Trust me!” or more simply that weird wide eyed friend who says “Stay safe!” instead of something normal like “Goodbye” or “See you later.”
Coronavirus was the doomer moment. For a virus you could so easily die from, these people seemed to live for it.
They were the ones at the beginning who said there were going to be 50 million deaths, the ones who in the middle who said it was going to last 3 years, and the same ones now who are saying that it’s all happening too fast and we are cruising for an epidemiological bruising. Why are they like this?
One of the many meaningless things people care about these days is their “social media legacy”. We want to make predictions and statements online, we want them to be correct, and we want to be remembered for our correctness.
Social media has turned us into a nation of live-action role players, each of us pretending to be some type of pundit or celebrity spewing our own little hot takes.
As the pandemic locked us in our homes with our smartphones, nearly everyone became an armchair expert on epidemiology, and the Doomer put on their best doom uniform and went to work.
In their addict-like search for a click fix, bloggers have been some of the biggest Doomers out there. How many passing articles or headlines have you read in the past year like “We Will Never Return To Our Offices Again And Here’s Why That’s A Good Thing”, “Online Learning Is Here To Stay And That May Be A Good Thing”, “We May Need Masks Forever And Thats OK!”, or the evergreen black coffee of doom, the “Is Coronavirus Here To Stay?” article.
Every one of us has had a vastly different coronavirus experience. The level to which people could quarantine depended on dozens of individual factors including their health, their job, the size of their family, and their financial situation. Many people had little to no choice but to put themselves in harm’s way to support their families and as a reward for this sacrifice, they were anonymously criticized by keyboard warriors with names like ToastStallone88.
At every turn, the Doomers have passed judgment from their keyboards. Sometimes they were vaguely right, but mostly they were outright wrong. Each holiday of 2020 signified the end of society for the Doomers. The Doomers predicted packed ICUs and mass deaths on every minuscule celebration from Mother’s Day through Halloween.
Anytime a business reopens or a restaurant increases its capacity, there will always be a comment scolding them for creating a breeding ground for the virus that will end with us all dead or in the Hunger Games. You just have to look long enough, it’s always there.
I can’t explain why Doomers doom any more than I can explain why crooners croon, but I assume it’s simply a preference for the homebody life and/or crippling depression.
What I can suggest though is that we remember them after this, and especially remember not to be like them in the future.
Because they did nothing to help.
Not one thing.
Like the annoying coworker or lab partner who stands off to the side watching and criticizing. They consider themselves too smart to keep their viewpoints to themselves, but they are also too chicken to roll up their sleeves and participate.
While everyone else did their jobs, followed protocols, and slowly lurched society and the economy back into something that could function, the Doomers sat on the sidelines self righteously and judged, publicly criticized, and made their predictable doomy predictions.
While it is true that human beings likely created the coronavirus in the first place, we also came together to defeat it, control it and limit the death toll. Big mistakes were made and politicians screwed a lot of things up. But considering what we were up against as a species, we did fairly well.
It’s time to make doomers a thing of the past. Mute and unfollow them and take away their fix.
All a doomer wants is to be remembered for being right, it’s time to forget them for being wrong.
Also, I love a chubby dog.