Volume 1, Resources 14: Doomscrolling & COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment

Hi friends! I am overwhelmed. I’m taking Friday (newsletter day!) off my day job this week which means it was a 4-day work week for me. I have had 17 meetings on four days, Monday through Thursday. I’m working from home, so these have all been virtual meetings. I work with really wonderful people and yet, that is A LOT of Zoom. I also have four books to read in the next 4 days, 6 synopses to write up, and 2 podcasts to record for my side gig. I found two photos that sum up how I am feeling at the time of writing this newsletter:

<image of a little girl, with her head in one hand while she is coloring a picture with a red crayon. She is crying but still coloring. There is text that says, “Some days, I just want to reply to emails with ‘ok’ and this photo.”>
<image from one of Richard Scarry’s children’s books. An anthropomorphized cat wearing a shirt or dress is leaning out of a window. The building she is in is on fire and there is also smoke coming from the window. There are words that describe her as “beautiful screaming lady.”>

Perhaps you can identify with one or both of them.

It’s resource week and I’m grateful for it!

Resource #1: COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

Some folks at Georgia Tech and the Applied BioInformatics Laboratory have created this COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool. The map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. You enter the event size and ascertainment level (I leave the latter at 10) and then zoom in and pick the county and it’ll tell you the risk level, which is the estimated chance (given as a percentage) that at least one person present at the event would be COVID-19 positive.

Of course, this is an estimate of the likelihood of someone being present that has the virus, not necessarily an estimate that you would contract it. But the way that the virus is so easily contracted, it can be helpful information in deciding if you’re going to that baby shower or graduation party (tip: don’t. Just don’t. Stay the fuck home FFS).

As an example, for an event size of 25 people in my county (Alameda County, California) on August 12th 2020, there is a 37% chance of someone having COVID-19 at that event.

Resources #2 & #3: How to Quit Doomscrolling

What is doomscrolling? It’s basically the incessant scrolling of news sites or social media where there is a lot of negative news and imagery and absolutely awful shit. Many places on the internet right now are as if a train ran into a 25 car pile-up on the tracks and there is no one to tell us to “move it along” when we are rubber-necking so we JUST. KEEP. LOOKING. You will be unsurprised to know, it’s not healthy! I certainly do it. I try to tell myself that I need to be informed. But honestly, at some point it’s just emotional masochism. I never look up from doomscrolling Twitter for 40 minutes and say, “Wow, I feel so much better!”

So, I have a couple of resources. The first is this article from Lifehacker, How to Quit Your Doomscrolling Habit. It’s heavy on the ads but hopefully a screen reader can make it through.

The other resource is this Instagram post that, unfortunately, does not have image descriptions or alt-text but if you can read images and you learn better from it, then this is for you!

Do you doomscroll?

During times of crisis and uncertainty, some of us pay more attention to the news, looking for answers. And this might not surprise you, but we have to say it: a lot of the news is bad. And yet we keep scrolling, keep reading article after article, unable to turn away from information that depresses us.

Doomscrolling traps us in a "vicious cycle of negativity" that fuels our anxiety.

Even though it's hard to unglue your eyes from bad news on social media, try to put healthy tech habits in place. Things are stressful enough without thinking about it all day.

There are some things we can keep in mind, and some practical steps we can take to stop doomscrolling and stop sacrificing sleep, productivity, and our mental well-being.

#doomscrolling #anxiety #positivity #solutions #optimism #future #news
July 31, 2020

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