Shifting from "Doomism" to "Doism"
Since the launch of 24 hour news by CNN in 1980; the need to have up-to-date information at every minute has created an environment of on-demand and constant flow of information with less verification and more urgent headlines to capture our attention. Most of us can probably agree that we see a lot more negative news across all media platforms than positive information. It's catchy- media needs catchy.
The problem becomes when our media cycle becomes a place of doomism or and constant alarmism. Even marketing tag lines like the one I saw this weekend stating, "Buy Vintage Save the World" will catch your eye but can create a spiral of despair. Doomism can create complete inaction.
When we consume constant negative news and messaging we are activating our sympathetic nervous system which causes our bodies to release stress hormones putting our bodies in fight or flight mode more frequently. As the release of cortisol and adrenaline becomes more constant, individuals may experience physical symptoms including anxiety and depression.
Those symptoms of anxiety and depression can, for some, lead to inaction or paralysis of living their lives daily. Instead of consuming some information and finding strategies to cope or make changes, we continue to consume more and more information perpetuating the inability to function.
Climate Doomism is one of the many terrifying topics we are exposed to regularly in our 24/7 news cycle. Yes, science has made it very clear that we are in trouble and that we need to take action, but for some the messaging of doom and urgency of doing it all now is terribly harmful and creates the state of paralysis from any action. Changing the dialogue, the culture around climate change and examining how we are consuming climate action information is important. A shift from "doom" to "do"...
Can we embrace "doism"?
According to Urban Dictionary (yes, I'm quoting Urban Dictionary), "DOism" is the believe that doing is everything. I like it, probably not a real word, but I like it and I want us to consider it.
The big words I'm using here are "we" and "us". Being in action and finding solutions is not a one person thing. Understanding that in a shift from "doom" to "do" you are not responsible for it all nor can you do it all, is the first step. Look for ways that you can be part of a collective effort. Accept that you are part of a collective effort.
Instead of consuming all the information, all the time, create times to stay informed and redirect more time to looking at ways to be in action to create the change you're seeking. (Like reducing our carbon emissions by 2030)
Also, be kind to yourself. Climate psychologist Renee Lertzman, reminds us to seek compassion for the feelings we have and be authentic in our actions. Kind of like those small steps I talk about all the time. It may be helpful for you to check out the psychology of self-efficacy here.
Identifying how we can collectively participate in change is where we can fight back from the doom. A simple Google search for "being in action" or "steps to create change" may tee you up for success. I love visioning and goal setting to get myself clear on how I want to create change. Our collaborator and goals coach friend, Jacki Carr, works closely with our team to do just that. Check out her vision boarding events and other goal setting workshops.
Let's get out of "Doom" and move to "Do" together. We've got this!
- Kara, Founder
The Conscious Merchant
Sources used and great additional reading:
- Is watching the news bad for mental health?
- Calm Clinic: Anxiety and Paralysis
- Climate psychologist says neither gloom-and-doom nor extreme solution-obsessed optimism is the best way to discuss climate change productively
- Climate change is radicalizing young people — here’s what that means and how to combat despair.
- Psychology behind climate inaction: How to beat the ′doom barrier′ | Environment | All topics from climate change to conservation | DW | 24.05.2019
- Our Brains Were Not Built for This Much Uncertainty – Disrupt Global '
- The history of 24 hour news | Older Is Wiser