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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Vail

Digital Rumination

Rumination is the behavior of repeatedly thinking about negative topics that trigger increased emotional distress. People who habitually ruminate often suffer from anxiety or depression, exacerbate mental suffering, and may recognize the harm of rumination - yet find it difficult to stop the habit.

Digital media can be a rumination enabler, offering countless opportunities and triggers for one's tendency to ruminate, such as:

  • algorithms suggesting negative content designed to commandeer our attention,

  • falling into online "rabbit holes,"

  • sensational content that amplifies catastrophizing (hello disaster porn),

  • the potent urge to engage with online bullies, and more.

Most people have experienced the stinging regret of a Facebook memory reminding us of something painful in our past, or the disappointing curiosity that prompts us to google an ex, or the noxious compulsion to repeatedly engage with a comments-section-troll. Although common, these pitfalls of our digital lives are avoidable with conscientious effort to resist them. Most methods for curbing digital rumination involve enacting some boundaries around time spent online or the type content consumed. Other methods include cultivating specific standards for your behavior online that align with you values, such as blocking online bullies rather than engaging. Many successful methods encourage an increase in your mindful engagement with tech; we have the power to control our attention and experience healthy detachment from our mental experiences through mindfulness.

Have you noticed digital rumination in your life? You aren't alone. If you need help to end habits of digital rumination that may be contributing to mental health struggles, please reach out. I'm a certified digital wellness educator and licensed professional counselor, uniquely equipped to help you cultivate a healthier relationship to technology and encourage habits that promote your wellbeing.

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