Epidemiology of News: Doom Scrolling, Information Overload, and Other “Media Pathologies” in Our Infected Society

Giacomo Buoncompagni


Along with the Covid-19 pandemic, a new type of 'disease' has spread just as rapidly, affecting the world of journalism and information. In addition to the concept of 'infodemic', first proposed by David J. Rothkopf in 2003 in relation to SARS, then taken up by a World Economic Forum study in 2006 to explain the fairness of information in emergencies, and finally used by the World Health Organisation itself to refer to the spread of false, tendentious or incorrect information during the Covid-19 pandemic. 2020 was also the year of a new word: doom scrolling.

This term refers to when a person constantly reads and searches for negative news online, and the consequences this has on our mental health. It is still a relatively new phenomenon, but several experts have already pointed out that doom scrolling is predictably detrimental to a person's mental well-being.

The pandemic has thus confirmed the already known risks of overexposure to a constant flow of information, a problem that affects media professionals, their audiences and institutions, and that can trigger social and psychophysical pathologies such as depression, mood swings, isolation and paranoia.

An attempt will be made here to discuss the issue from a critical point of view and to reconstruct the phenomenon of 'doom scrolling'. Finally, an attempt will be made to define the main lines of public discussion based on the most recent literature available in this period of global crisis.

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsr.v14i1.20808

Copyright (c) 2023 Giacomo Buoncompagni

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Journal of Sociological Research ISSN 1948-5468

Email: jsr@macrothink.org

Copyright © Macrothink Institute 

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the 'macrothink.org' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.