Evolutionary biologists tell us we are wired to pay more attention to scary things, and in fact get a neurochemical reward for identifying dangers. That could be why some people like to doomscroll. But what happens when Twitter and Facebook stop delivering a kick? They can head over to r/Collapse, where the bad news isn't polluted with messages of hope or humor. At this subreddit, devoted to the collapse of civilization, you'll learn about gangs of Polish skinheads who beat women and journalists with the blessing of authorities, massive layoffs, global warming, a worsening pandemic, food riots, mass species dieoffs, economic strife, a second US Civil War, and civil unrest.
Its content—a mixture of news headlines, memes and rants—is clearly addictive, at least for some people. It's laced with hints of existential truths: that progress is a myth, that capitalism is already in decline, and that environmental catastrophe may come much sooner than most people expect. Naturally, this content has the capacity to be highly depressing. A suicide hotline is displayed in a prominent position on the front page, alongside a disclaimer. "Overindulging in this sub[reddit] may be detrimental to your mental health," it says. "Anxiety and depression are common reactions when studying collapse."