Social Media’s Social Mess

The Social Media Buzz

Technology is an ever-advancing machine that seems to constantly be trying to better itself.  Big companies like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft are churning out improvement after improvement, bringing us better hardware and software as well as catering to our every whim.  We can shop online easily, find whatever information we want in seconds and connect with people all over the world thanks to social media.

Nowadays a lot of people are on social media.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it, there are people on it.  For some it’s a great way of keeping in touch with their friends.  For others, it’s used more for connecting with people and marketing their companies.  Whatever its uses, though, there are a lot of people on it.  As a result, it’s made the world very small.  Having lived in three countries over my lifetime, I’ve made friends across the world and social media, particularly Facebook, really helps me keep in touch with them.

But is it as good as it seems?  Is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

I’m not so sure.

Depression and Social Media

Due to the increase in social media usage, people have begun to question whether or not a “social media depression” exists.  Now, this phenomenon hasn’t been officially added to the “depression” label but it’s something that seems fairly widely thought of.  People cite Facebook and Twitter as potential causes for depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.  There are a couple of valid reasons for this, despite some studies arguing that the two have very little in common.

So who is right with this one?  Well, going off my own experiences of things like Facebook and Twitter, I’m more inclined to believe there are links between the two.  I have a couple of reasons for this.

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How can it trigger depression?
  1. Green Grass Phenomenon – the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, right?  People only ever post their best photos or videos, don’t they?  You may be scrolling through your timeline or Twitter stream and seeing people in overwhelmingly happy situations.  But how many of them are real?  A lot of times this isn’t the case, they only choose what they want you to see.
  2. Isolation and Distraction – with social media being so constant, it’s become quite common to see people constantly checking their phones for the latest news and updates.  It’s become a subject of jokes for some, such as the image to the right, but it is a problem.  People isolate themselves, choosing to glue themselves to their phones instead.  That leads to a strong feeling of loneliness – one of the potential triggers of depression – and it can distract them from important things they should be attending to.
  3. Bullying and Oversharing – one of my earliest memories of Facebook is of people posting every time they went to eat or needed the toilet.  People have a tendency to share too much on social media.  For some, this gets them into trouble – employees who share skiving photos, forgetting they are friends with their boss – but for some this can cause bigger problems.  What if people access something you wouldn’t want them knowing?  A secret or a humiliating event?  As a result, online bullying is also a big phenomenon, especially amongst teens and children.
Is it real?

So is “social media depression” a thing?  Is it another gimmick that people will readily accept?  Well, I don’t believe it is one of the leading, primary causes.  I do, however, think it can be a contributing factor.

Take communication, for example.  You can have hundreds of Facebook friends and never hear from any of them.  In a world where communication is instantaneous and it takes only a few minutes to send a message, not receiving any messages can be extremely disheartening.  People don’t mean it that way but it can feel that way.  Add to that your already depressed state and it’s a bad mix.

Inadequacy is another problem.  Linked directly to that greener grass phenomenon I mentioned, if you see people posting pictures of being happy, you might feel your own life is awful by comparison.  It isn’t always the case.  Regardless of that, however, your depression or anxiety might tell you it is.  It can push you down lower and lower as you wonder whether your life is as bad as it feels.

What Do You Think?

Ultimately, I think social media is a contributing factor to people’s mental health struggles.  I’m not convinced that it’s a trigger, although it can exasperate things.  That being said, in some extreme situations I think it can be a justifiable cause.

But what do you think?  Is social media a contributing factor?  Or is it more of a root cause?  Leave us a comment, letting us know what you think.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Author: Alex Davies

Alex Davies is the creator and writer for Pushing Back the Shadows. Find out more about his journey here and connect with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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