Social Barrier

Social Media Icons

Social Media

Social media is an effective way of keeping us connected, isn’t it?  The flick of a thumb, the touch of a finger and boom, a plethora of posts at our fingertips.  Everyone’s latest updates, everyone’s pictures and statuses and so much more, all accessible for us.  Sometimes we can get overloaded.  And really that’s the problem, isn’t it?  No holds barred, no barrier to stop us from being bombarded, nothing.  It can be a mess!

Sometimes social media can be great for encouragement.  As someone going through depression, we can find what we need to keep going.  Other times, it just drags us down.  Do you find that?  We look at everyone’s updates and it just makes everything worse.  It looks like they’re doing so much better than we are.  Everything seems to be going right for them, doesn’t it?

Isn’t that the problem with social media, though?  There is no barrier preventing us from getting depressed by what we see.  Nothing to stop us from getting mired in that downward spiral, that depressive funk that makes it worse.  Or is there?

Social Media and the Barrier

Those of you following the blog will know I’m active on Twitter and Facebook, updating fairly regularly on either and doing my best to interact with followers.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to do the same on our Tumblr and Instagram accounts.  Not to spoil the secret or anything but when I go to interact, I search for the hashtags of depression or anxiety to find people to interact with.  Now, Twitter and Facebook let me find them without any problems.  But Tumblr and Instagram?  They have a barrier.

Instagram IconTake Instagram, for example: when I search for #depression, the following message pops up…

Can we help?

Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death.

If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.

Learn more

Isn’t that fantastic?  You search for something like #depression and Instagram and Tumblr both put up a barrier for you to pass.  You literally have to click the “Show Posts” button to be able to access posts of that nature.  But they also offer support if you’re suffering.

Isn’t that great?

A Call to Action

For a society that seems to put some form of emphasis on mental health awareness, you would think that the other social media sites would do it too.  Facebook and Twitter, with their millions of users, should take similar ownership, wouldn’t you say?  Isn’t it time we took that responsibility and offered support?  If Tumblr can put up a barrier that forces you to click to accept to go through to the #depression posts and offer links to support services, why can’t Twitter?  If Instagram can do it, why can’t Facebook?

Do you think this is a good thing?  Would you say Facebook and Twitter need to do something similar?  Comment below to let us know!

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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.

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.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

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.