Swap the doom of 2020 with hopefulness, thanks to Iceland’s new site that introduces the idea of joyscrolling.


When Oxford Languages released its Words of an Unprecedented Year report last month, one of the terms on the list was doomscrolling, which is defined as “the action of compulsively scrolling through social media or news feeds which relate to bad news” — a habit that has consumed much of the unprecedented year for many.

But now it’s time to turn that 2020 frown upside down and embrace a new habit: joyscrolling. 

On Joyscroll.com, a new site launched by Iceland’s tourism board, doomscrollers are invited to counter their instinctive habit of chasing negativity by scrolling through the joyful sights and sounds of the island nation. 

Based on research that showed Brits scroll through 5.149 miles on their smartphones each year, the tourism board calculated that each person works through 74.47 feet every day. So, the site provides exactly that amount of inspiring Icelandic imagery to scroll through, with a tool measuring the distance scrolled in real time. 

The joyful content includes images of all the happiest and calming aspects of Icelandic life, like waterfalls, the northern lights, and elf houses. Also included are tastes of the country’s experiences, including scuba diving in Silfra between two continental plates, watching a geyser spring to life, frolicking in the mist of waterfalls, and admiring the artistry of the local cuisine. 

The beautiful sunset at Kirkjufell waterfall in Iceland
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Calming moments are provided through photos of the Blue Lagoon, as well as a guided breathing section and images of wildlife (think: ewes, puffins, horses, arctic foxes, and gyrfalcons).

To top it off, there are music breaks, including tunes from Icelandic artists like Júníus Meyvant, Gugusar, Auður, and Ólafur Arnalds, in addition to a performance from Bríet.

Why should Iceland be the one to pave the way for a more positive outlook? Well, with only five hours of daylight during the upcoming darkest days of winter, the culture has long been about finding the upside of things amid the literal darkness. “Over the past year, the doomscrolling habit has intensified, with people looking for light relief, only to scroll through streams of bad news daily, which ultimately creates a feeling of anxiety and emotional distress,” psychologist Emma Kenny, who worked on the project, said in a statement to Travel + Leisure. “Taking the time to engage with positive content can have an almost instantaneous impact on our emotional state, so joyscrolling is the perfect antidote.”

The nation — which had been experiencing a spike in tourism in recent years, with over two million foreign visitors in 2019 — has been using the current pause in travel to improve its roads, parks, and landmarks and slowly welcome back tourists

But in the meantime, they hope that coining the counterculture sensation of joyscrolling will provide some much-needed happiness in 2020. “We hope our content will offer an escape and bring a smile to the world,” Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, head of Visit Iceland, said in a statement. “Hopefully, sometime soon, people will be able to enjoy it in real life. We look forward to welcoming that day.”