Living in a Scrolling Society: How Technology Is Minimizing Our Sensitivity

Some say we’ve developed a microwave mentality of impatience and immediate gratification. In this increasingly speedy, technological world, another phenomenon is also developing. We are becoming a scrolling society. We are able to scroll past disagreements, police shootings, natural disasters, local news, long articles, and general foolishness with a simple swipe. Should we ever get tired of scrolling, we simply block, unfollow, and forget.

This process of scrolling and self-selecting what we are exposed to has given us an unprecedented capacity to mentally opt-out, which for many has become second nature. Occasionally things may catch our attention for a brief moment, where we retweet or double tap or like to show our support and raise awareness.

But in the midst of all this “awareness”, what we are truly generating is a false sense of action and compassion.

scrolling privilege

We use hashtags as a disguise for complacency and retweets as camouflage for inactivism.

This world of limitless connectivity has given us mass exposure to so many happenings that each subsequent one is minimized or dismissed. So how do we combat it?

Reflect: Ask yourself, why was this posted or shared? What makes me dismissive of it? What does this have to do with me? How can I help?

Engage: Truly listen to other perspectives. Start new conversations with unfamiliar followers. Meaningful dialogue develops empathy.

Unplug: Sometimes it is too much. Too much trauma. Too much ignorance. Too much stimulus. Engage in self-care, whatever that looks like. Disconnect an hour before bed. Give your mind and heart time to recuperate and restore their humanity. 

In doing these things, you will disrupt the scrolling mentality. You have the power to reduce the spreading of unreliable news, connect to organizations, gain insights from reading and research, and be presented with opportunities to engage in meaningful action and impactful conversations. You will contemplate the relationship between climate change, deforestation, and mudslides in Sierra Leone. You will begin to consider the legacy of damage left in Hurricane Maria's wake. You will become concerned with Venezuela’s collapse and its relevance to refugees and oil prices.

When you stop scrolling, even just for a moment, you give your brain time to slow down and actually connect.

Connect with the idea that these are not just headlines and pictures. These are people. These are lives and situations that may be far away yet are undoubtedly connected to each one of us. And the next time you share something, make it something that will make them stop scrolling.