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Endless Scrolling Through Social Media can Literally Make You Sick

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Artist's conception of cybersickness.

As engagement with digital devices from laptops to smartphones increases, some users are now reporting cybersickness, which previously was confined to those wearing VR headsets.

Credit: Victor de Schwanberg

When a dark ashy cloud born from wildfires settled over the Seattle metropolitan area, Jack Riewe was among the millions of people suddenly trapped indoors. It was September 2020, and without access to the outdoors during a pandemic, it became even more difficult for the 27-year-old writer to see other people. He could only fill his days switching between working remotely on his computer, watching TV, or scrolling through endless fire updates on his phone.

"I was forced to stay inside in my hot apartment without any escape except the craziness happening on Twitter," he says.

For a week he scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled, until he felt "weighed down, dizzy, [and] nauseous." At the time, he attributed these symptoms to the air quality, or even wondered if he had contracted the coronavirus. The cause was something more insidious: the physical toll of living almost entirely in a virtual world.

From National Geographic
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