What Is Doomscrolling And Why Is It So Bad For Online Scam Victims?
Doomscrolling is the act of compulsively scrolling through bad news or negative content on social media or other digital platforms, especially before bed or late at night. This behavior can have negative effects on mental healthMental health Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". According to WHO, mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, intergenerational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health"., such as increased anxiety and stress.
For online scam victims, doomscrolling can be particularly harmful. It can exacerbate feelings of shameShame Shame is an unpleasant self-conscious emotion typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; withdrawal motivations; and feelings of distress, exposure, mistrust, powerlessness, and worthlessness., embarrassment, and isolation that often accompany falling for a scam. It can also make it more difficult for victims to focus on recovering from the scam and taking steps to protect themselves in the future.
Moreover, doomscrolling can make it easier for scammers to continue to prey on victims. Scammers often use fear and anxiety to manipulate their victims, and constant exposure to negative news and content can increase those feelings and make it more likely for victims to fall for additional scamsScams A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime - is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost. or to be less vigilant in protecting their personal information.
How Do Online Scam Victims Exhibit Doomscrolling After Their Scam Has Ended?
In today’s world, online scams have become increasingly common, and their victims are often left feeling vulnerable, isolated, and anxious. Many victims turn to social media or online forums to seek support or share their experiences, but in some cases, this behavior can lead to a pattern of doomscrolling.
Doomscrolling refers to the act of compulsively scrolling through negative or distressing content online. This behavior can have a range of negative effects on mental health, including increased anxiety, depression, and stress. For victims of online scams, doomscrolling can be particularly harmful, as it can exacerbate feelings of shame, embarrassment, and isolation that often accompany falling for a scam.
So how do online scam victims exhibit doomscrolling after their scam has ended? Here are a few common ways:
Searching for information about the scam
After falling victim to a scam, it’s common for victims to want to learn more about what happened and how they can prevent it from happening again. However, this search for information can quickly turn into a pattern of doomscrolling, as victims spend hours combing through online forums, news articles, and social media posts related to the scam.
While it’s important to be informed and take steps to protect oneself from future scams, this constant exposure to negative content can be overwhelming and stressful. Victims may feel like they’re not making progress in their recovery, which can exacerbate feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.
Reading about other people’s experiences with similar scams
Online scams are often sophisticated and well-executed, meaning that victims may feel like they’re the only ones who have fallen for a particular scam. However, as victims start to seek support and share their experiences online, they may discover that they’re not alone.
While connecting with other victims can be a helpful way to process one’s own experience, it can also lead to doomscrolling behavior. Victims may spend hours reading about other people’s experiences with similar scams, which can reinforce feelings of shame, embarrassment, and isolation.
Obsessively looking at scammerScammer A Scammer or Fraudster is someone that engages in deception to obtain money or achieve another objective. They are criminals that attempt to deceive a victim into sending more or performing some other activity that benefits the scammer. profiles and photos
It is bad for scam victims to obsessively look at fake profiles and scammer photos for several reasons.
Firstly, constantly looking at fake profiles and scammer photos can triggerTRIGGERS A trigger is a stimulus that sets off a memory of a trauma or a specific portion of a traumatic experience. feelings of anxiety and stress, which can be detrimental to a person’s mental health. Victims may feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem and powerless to do anything about it, which can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair.
Secondly, obsessively looking at fake profiles and scammer photos can reinforce feelings of shame and embarrassment that are common among scam victims. Victims may feel like they should have known better or that they were somehow complicit in the scam, which can lead to a sense of self-blameSelf-Blame Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them. SCARS seeks to mitigate the prejudice against victims and the perception that victims are in any way responsible for the actions of offenders or scammers. There is historical and current prejudice against the victims of domestic violence and sex crimes, such as the greater tendency to blame victims of rape than victims of robbery. Scam victims are often blamed by family & friends for the crime. Scam victims also engage in self-blame even though they are not to blame. and guilt.
Thirdly, this behavior can interfere with a victim’s ability to move on from the scam and focus on their recovery. Instead of taking concrete steps to address the situation, victims may become stuck in a cycle of doomscrolling and rumination that prevents them from making progress.
Finally, it’s important to remember that looking at fake profiles and scammer photos can be triggering and traumatic for some victims. Seeing images of the person who scammed them or the fake profiles used in the scam can bring up painful memories and emotions, which can be difficult to process.
While it’s understandable that scam victims may want to understand the scope of the problem and learn more about the tactics used by scammers, it’s important to do so in a way that prioritizes one’s mental health and well-being. Victims should seek support from friends, family, or professionals, take steps to protect themselves from future scams, and avoid engaging in behaviors that reinforce negative emotions or prevent them from moving forward.
Seeking out news stories or social media posts related to the scam
In some cases, victims may actively seek out news stories or social media posts related to the scam that they fell victim to. This behavior can be driven by a desire to understand the scope of the problem, stay informed about any updates or developments related to the scam, or warn others about the scam.
However, this constant exposure to negative content can be distressing and exacerbate feelings of anxiety and stress. Victims may feel like they can’t escape the negative emotions associated with the scam, which can make it difficult to move on and focus on recovery.
Dwelling on the financial impact of the scam
One of the most distressing aspects of falling victim to an online scam is the financial impact. Victims may lose thousands of dollars, which can have long-lasting consequences for their financial stability and well-being.
After the scam has ended, some victims may engage in doomscrolling behavior by obsessively checking their bank accounts, credit reports, and other financial information. This behavior can be driven by a desire to understand the full extent of the damage caused by the scam, but it can also reinforce feelings of anxiety and stress.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Doomscrolling?
Doomscrolling, or the habit of continuously scrolling through negative news or social media content, can have several negative effects on a person’s mental health and well-being.
Increased Anxiety and Stress
Doomscrolling can lead to increased anxiety and stress as a person is exposed to a constant stream of negative news and information. The human brain is wired to pay more attention to negative information, so doomscrolling can be particularly addictive and overwhelming. The constant exposure to negative content can also activate the body’s stress response, leading to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping.
Doomscrolling can cause mood disturbances such as sadness, angerAnger Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, trigger, hurt or threat. About one-third of scam victims become trapped in anger for extended periods of time following a scam. A person experiencing anger will often experience physical effects, such as increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and increased levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline. Some view anger as an emotion that triggers a part of the fight or flight response. Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviorally, cognitively, and physiologically. Anger can have many physical and mental consequences. While most of those who experience anger explain its arousal as a result of "what has happened to them", psychologists point out that an angry person can very well be mistaken because anger causes a loss in self-monitoring capacity and objective observability., or irritability. Negative news and social media content can trigger emotional responses that can linger long after the scrolling has stopped. This can negatively impact a person’s mood and their ability to focus on other tasks or activities.
Doomscrolling can be a major time-waster that reduces productivity and can interfere with a person’s ability to focus on work or other important tasks. Constantly checking social media or news feeds can lead to procrastination, distractions, and an inability to concentrate on other activities.
Doomscrolling can lead to sleep disturbances as exposure to negative news and information can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can also interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia.
Doomscrolling can lead to social isolation as a person becomes more focused on their phone or computer screen than on interacting with others in real life. The constant exposure to negative news and social media content can also make a person more pessimistic and less inclined to engage in social activities.
Impact on Mental Health
Doomscrolling can have a negative impact on a person’s mental health and well-being. Prolonged exposure to negative news and social media content can increase symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. It can also cause a sense of hopelessness or helplessness, leading to feelings of despair and low self-esteem.
Feelings of Anger & Hate
Doomscrolling can increase scam victim anger, frustration, and hate. When a person falls victim to a scam, they may experience a range of emotions, including anger, frustration, and betrayal. These emotions can be intensified by the experience of doomscrolling, as the victim is repeatedly exposed to negative information about scams and fraudFraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain (money or other assets), or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compensation) or criminal law (e.g., a fraud perpetrator may be prosecuted and imprisoned by governmental authorities), or it may cause no loss of money, property, or legal right but still be an element of another civil or criminal wrong. The purpose of fraud may be monetary gain or other benefits, for example by obtaining a passport, travel document, or driver's license, or mortgage fraud, where the perpetrator may attempt to qualify for a mortgage by way of false statements. A fraud can also be a hoax, which is a distinct concept that involves deliberate deception without the intention of gain or of materially damaging or depriving a victim..
Feelings of Helplessness and Hopelessness
Doomscrolling can also lead to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, which can exacerbate these negative emotions. Victims may feel that they have been unfairly targeted by scammers and that there is little they can do to protect themselves from future scams. This can lead to feelings of anger and frustration that are directed at the scammers and the systems that allow scams to flourish.
Spreading Urban Legends and Misinformation
In addition, doomscrolling can contribute to the spread of misinformation and stereotypes about scammers and fraudsters. Victims may be exposed to sensationalized news stories or social media posts that paint all scammers as greedy, heartless criminals. This can fuel feelings of hatred and intolerance towards scammers and anyone who is perceived to be associated with them.
Negative Mental Health Effects
In addition to what was mentioned above, there are additional negative mental health effects for scam victims.
Impaired Cognitive Function
Doomscrolling can also impair cognitive function in scam victims. When a person is constantly exposed to negative information, their ability to think clearly and make decisions can be impacted. This can make it difficult for scam victims to take action to protect themselves or to make sound financial decisions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Scam victims may be at increased risk of developing PTSD, a mental health condition that can occur after a traumatic event. The experience of being scammed can be traumatizing, and constant exposure to negative information about scams and fraud can further exacerbate this traumaTrauma Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away. It can also leave you feeling numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety or other emotional shocks, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and isolated can result in trauma, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective circumstances that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Trauma requires treatment, either through counseling or therapy or through trauma-oriented support programs, such as those offered by SCARS..
Impaired Physical Health
Doomscrolling can have negative physical health effects on scam victims as well. Chronic stress and anxiety can contribute to a range of physical health problems, including headaches, muscle tension, and digestive issues.
How To Avoid Doomscrolling?
Here are tips you can use while you are recovering from your scams – from 0 – 12 months after the scam ends:
- Limit the amount of time you scroll through the new & social media to no more than an hour
- Do not spend any time looking at scammer photos or fake profiles
- Avvoid anti-scam hate groups completely
- Limit reading scam victims stories to one a day
- Avoid news about scammer arrests and convictions
- Limit your interaction with other angry scam victims
In summary, doomscrolling can have serious negative effects on a person’s mental health and well-being. It’s important to be aware of these potential risks and take steps to reduce the amount of negative news and social media content that you consume. This can include setting limits on your social media use, taking breaks from the news, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction.
If you have fallen victim to an online scam, it’s important to seek support and take steps to protect yourself, but it’s also important to limit your exposure to negative content and prioritize your mental health. This can include taking breaks from social media or limiting your consumption of news and other negative content.
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We also offer separate support groupsSupport Groups In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic, such as romance scams. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others' experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks. A support group may also work to inform the public or engage in advocacy. They can be supervised or not. SCARS support groups are moderated by the SCARS Team and or volunteers. for family & friends too.
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This program is designed to help scam victims struggling to recover on their own and for those who want to understand the overall process. You can be using other resources, such as trauma counseling or therapy, qualified support groups, or completely independent – on your own!
The SCARS Steps program is a complete program and is provided for the purpose of helping scam victims to overcome this experience. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues and challenges that a victim may have and help guide them through their recovery. But each person is different and it is important to understand your own reasons for being vulnerable to being scammed.
After the trauma of being scammed, you need to take steps to recover and move on. This may be an alternative to counseling in the short term, but we still encourage you to seek out professional help & support. Throughout this SCARS Steps Program, we speak about issues, challenges, defects, or problems that a victim may have in a generalized way.
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HOW TO HELP ROMANCE SCAM VICTIMS FOR FAMILIES & FRIENDS OF SCAM VICTIMS
This SCARS Publishing book represents a complete guide to help the families and friends understand how these scams work and how to help the victim.
The SCARS Slate Book should be purchased by family and friends to better understand what happened to the victim and the traumatic impact on them. But it can also be shared by the victim so that they do not have to explain to family and friends about the scam. This publication is to help others to help Scam Victims to make it through this traumatic experience and recover.
Each person is different and it is important to understand how relationship scamsRelationship Scam A Relationship Scam is a one-to-one criminal act that involves a trust relationship and uses deception & manipulation to get a victim to give to the criminal something of value, such as money! Click here to learn more: What Is A Relationship Scam? work and why people are vulnerable; to being scammed, how they were lured in, then groomed and manipulated. This understanding is essential in helping them through the process of ending the scam and then on to recovery. The SCARS Slate Book will provide the information necessary to help support a victim through this process.
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As we have seen, money recovery/repayment programs can become available years after the scam ends and you need to keep all the details of this crime in case it is needed. We have also seen scammers being extradited to the U.S. and other countries, this will help in the event you testify or give statements, Additionally, this helps you have your information ready to qualify for victims’ benefits, compensation, or aid.
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