Do you suffer from Post Traumatic ‘Scroll’ Disorder?
If you consider yourself an average user on Facebook, you probably check your wall post once an hour, often just to fill a quiet moment. Scrolling through dozens of posts, skimming by birthdays, baby announcements, and beautiful pictures of loved ones covers your stillness. However, not all of what you’re digesting during this scroll session is uplifting. Often it’s just the opposite. Death notices, car accidents, and natural disasters are just a few examples. Although part of life, when did traumatic news become the new norm? Here’s a few more headlines during a recent scroll in the park:
- Dog’s Face Mangled – Please help!
- Metro Detroit’s Flood of 2014
- Iraq human genocide
- Ebola breakout threatens U.S.
- Child has rare disease – pray for a miracle
- Miscarriage and heartache
- Deadly hurricane in Florida
- Robin Williams ends his own life
- Gaza Strip doomed for death
- My cat died suddenly last night
Although these topics warrant being shared, the way in which we’re exposed can be dangerous to our emotional and spiritual health. Our brain’s like to be aroused. The amygdala (the emotional part of our brain) tends to be activated when we process traumatic news during our innocent scroll. Better known for the ‘fight of flight’ response, the amygdala releases a chemical cascade of adrenaline and cortisol (a stress hormone), helping us run from a dangerous situation.
Now wait just a second. Run from a dangerous situation? When was the last time you saw someone physically running from what they saw on Facebook? Unless they were on their standing treadmill desk at a maximum speed , you probably haven’t.
The amygdala struggles to decipher between trauma in our virtual world versus trauma in our physical world.
These traumatic posts fuel our dinner table conversations. They plant seeds of fear in our fertile minds. Not to mention, our bodies are getting tired from constantly being ‘on’ by this tidal wave of trauma. Continuous arousal can create an adrenaline drip that depletes our energy level and leaves us washed up feeling exhausted. Richard Swenson, my new favorite author has a lot to say about exhaustion.
A futurist of sorts, Swenson spent 20 years practicing medicine before devoting his life to research and writing books around topics like ‘searching for balance’. Dr. Swenson began to notice that a significant portion of his patients self-reported feelings of exhaustion and depression. Instead of writing prescriptions, Dr. Swenson was inspired to dig deeper. He wanted to know why?
Fast forward to the present day and you’ll find Swenson on the forefront of thought leadership on topics of balance, self-help, and strengthening your faith during times of chaos and insane social pressures. Currently, I’m splitting my reading time between “In Search of Balance” and “Contentment” (I highly recommend both). Here’s a peak at the back of the cover of ‘In Search of Balance’:
“…hope for recovering a foundational sense of equilibrium.” Wow – that’s a powerful statement. I want that – whatever it means. Ambiguity aside, it’s clear that our foundation is influenced by our daily decisions in our virtual and physical realms. If you find yourself being force fed emotionally charged posts on Facebook, beware that your foundation is susceptible to heartache and stress. Hairline fractures from spikes in adrenaline and pitfalls from exhaustion can damage your foundation leading to, what I call, Post Traumatic ‘Scroll’ Disorder.
Clearly, Post Traumatic ‘Scroll’ Disorder is not a real thing. Now Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health disorder. I’ve had friends and family suffer from this and don’t wish it upon anyone. However, I can’t help but draw a correlation from this play on words. I’ve literally seen loved ones suffer from what they’ve seen on Facebook – even if they don’t click on the post to read more, the fact that they exposed their minds to this news can hinder their perspective for the entire day, week or longer. Doesn’t this make you wonder if we are becoming traumatized more than we realize?
Innocent scrolling on Facebook can yield feelings of sadness, depression, and sometimes even trauma. My hope in exploring the idea of Post Traumatic ‘Scroll’ Disorder is to heighten your awareness of how what you see online does have an impact on how you feel. The next time you leisurely pick up your phone to ‘scroll’ a bit, I’d encourage you to:
take a deep breath,
plant your feet on the ground,
and give thanks for your safe surroundings.
Your amygdala would appreciate it, and so would Dr. Swenson and I.
And who knows, maybe you’ll decide to take a scroll around the block instead!