Is social media depression really a thing? Well, technically it isn't in the "DSM 5", but I think it's real. Social media was originally designed to help connect people; ironically enough, now that it has become a big part of our society, it is disconnecting people instead. There are definitely benefits to social media, however, it is changing our brains and the ways we interact with one another. If you are someone who does feel more sad and lonely, it may be worth it to look at your social media use and see if it is contributing. Studies show that, "Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness." - Melissa Hunt (Click here to read an article with more information on this)
Here are a few reasons it can cause people to feel depressed:
It allows you to compare yourself to others more easily and more often. Most people post the highlights of their lives, and often do not post the difficult parts. It gives this illusion that other people might have more "fun" or are "happier" than you may be or feel.
It increases Fear Of Missing Out because you can see what others are doing and what you aren't included in.
It makes interactions more about ourselves, rather than each other - as well as how much attention you are getting for what you are sharing. Online, you get to update and write all about yourself. You get to see if people "like" or "follow" or "re-post". Very rarely are you connecting with others in real time sharing things and having substantial discussions about them.
Relationships are less private and more public. You have no idea who is taking screen shots or verbally reporting and sharing with others. Your business is there for everyone to see, and often times this either creates issues when you find that it is being shared in a way you did not want it to be shared, or you limit what you are sharing and do not feel connected because you are holding back.
So what can you do about it?
Be more mindful that what people post doesn't always give you the full story. Keeping this is mind can help you battle that comparison to others and feeling "less than".
Be understanding that even though you may be friends with people, they have their own lives just like you do. You both will have things you do without one another. That doesn't mean your friendship isn't good. It just means that you can respect they also have different friends too. It may be time to re-evaluate your relationship, or the way you look at it, but this isn't always the case.
Be proactive. If you are feeling less connected, make an effort to reach out to someone and actually have a conversation over the phone, video chat, or in person. Make plans with them to do something you can both enjoy. Humans are meant to connect through shared interests. Often times we feel disconnected because we aren't connecting on that level.
Be aware. Generally a good rule to keep in mind is that if you are okay with someone over hearing you in a coffee shop, it is okay to post. If you wouldn't be okay with having people over hear you, it is probably a good idea to keep that one off your social media. If you feel like you want to share it, reach out to someone you trust and talk to them about it offline.
For ways to limit your social media use and other ways it can affect your brain, look for the second blog in this series next month: Feburary 2019