For eight months now, so many of us have been doomscrolling into the deep.
Doomscrolling is mindlessly thumbing through social media — probably Twitter — absorbing all of the horrible news about circumstances you can’t control. Usually, the act has been associated with the coronavirus pandemic; as the year went on, it expanded into news about other topics like increasing social unrest and the election.
As Election Day turned into Election Week, it was undeniable that President-elect Joe Biden was edging ahead of Trump in key states. While the race wasn’t called for days, news of Biden’s lead and Trump’s shrinking chances kept rolling in. This kept people glued to their Twitter timelines, but unlike in previous months, it was for a good reason.
The emotional switch prompted author Jami Attenberg to muse if it’s really “doomscrolling” when you’re scanning for good news:
is it really still doomscrolling if it’s good news
— jami attenberg (@jamiattenberg) November 6, 2020
Attenberg wasn’t alone; many of us wondered what this unique feeling was. We were on social media and yet, for the first time since arguably the night before the 2016 election, we’re seeing good news with every refresh.
Slate’s Heather Schwedel offered gleefreshing as an alternative, and people have been running with it:
There’s also a sprinkle of “schadensurfing,” a term jumping off the German word “schadenfreude,” meaning joy at others’ misfortune. The term went viral on Twitter in early October, when Trump was diagnosed with COVID.
It’s undeniable that watching Trump supporters squirm and get upset is delightful, and schadensurfing isn’t mutually exclusive from gleefreshing. “If you can’t get enough speculation about exactly how miserable Donald Trump is right now,” Schwedel wrote, “you’re kind of a sadist, but yup, you’re gleefreshing.”
Sadistic or not, gleefreshing has overtaken doomscrolling… for now, anyway. But this doesn’t mean the work is over. The pandemic is raging, the United States hasn’t fully reckoned with its systemic racism, Trump shoved in a third Supreme Court pick days before the election — and the election was so close that it’s disturbing how many people voted for a man who let over 200,000 people die under his watch.
Despite all of this, it’s been a long week, a long year, a long four years. You’re allowed to savor this moment. You’re allowed to gleefresh the election results, and at the jokes and memes and whining conservatives.
Tomorrow, we get to work. Today, my friends, we gleefresh.