I will be the first to admit that I am addicted to Facebook. I mindlessly scroll through the news feed on my phone for much longer than I should. However, I noticed that during times of depression, Facebook and other forms of social media tend to make me feel very bad about myself. It is not the negative posts that bother me; it is the happy posts like the ones about someone visiting a different country, or getting a new job, or married, or is pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for my friends. My sadness has nothing to do with their happiness. It is more about my own underlying issues.
Many people have a tendency of portraying themselves differently on social media. I do it as well. People are not visiting social media sites to see me post about if I am depressed, sick, or just got into an argument with someone, and very rarely do I see other people posting statues like I described. Instead, people are going to post pictures and statuses about fun, exciting things they are doing with their lives. However, when I am in a depressed state of mind, it is hard to look at things in a positive view. It is easier to focus on what we are not doing with our lives and come up with reasons why we cannot have an exciting life like our social media friends portray.
Over the last few months, I found ways to deal with social media-related depression. The first step was to recognize that my countless hours on Facebook were contributing to my pre-existing depression. I researched the topic and talked with my therapist about it, and discovered, I was not alone in feeling this way. Many fighting depression and other self-esteem issues struggle with negative responses from social media. I figure this blog would be a good place to share how I have overcome social media issues. Below are several tips I found useful that you can hopefully use to help eliminate depression caused by social media.
Limit your time on Facebook: Okay, I will admit, I have struggled with this. I deleted the Facebook app off my phone for a while and deactivated my account on several occasions. Any way to limit your usage is a plus. If you feel your self-esteem dropping or feeling blue, get off.
If someone’s posts consistently upset you, delete them or unfollow them: I personally prefer unfollowing certain friends, they will never know that you hid their statuses. But if it is someone you have not talked to in a long time, there is nothing wrong with un-friending them.
Try not to join debates on Facebook posts: I do not want to discourage a healthy debate. However, there are going to be instances where you will not change the other person’s opinion. Like my mom always said, “there are two things you don’t talk about at the dinner table: politics and religion.” This is true for Facebook as well. If a certain topic or debate is going to make you upset, just ignore the post.
Limit the number of social media platforms you use: Choose only a couple sites to use. I have chosen Facebook, Pinterest, and the occasional post on Twitter. Once again, the theory behind this is to limit your time on social media sites.
Caution: Photoshop in use: Many of us are guilty of “photoshopping” out a zit or adding a filter to our sunset pictures to make it look more vibrant. On a more extreme level, some pictures have been photoshopped to make the person appear thinner. Keep in mind that many pictures we see on the Internet have probably been doctored.
Do not let social media replace the real world: Humans are social beings. We are meant to interact with one another. Talking on Facebook, texting, or even video chatting on Skype does not replace face-to-face contact. Go out with your friends and create your own real life adventures that you can put on Facebook.
One last thing to keep in mind: Is Facebook making you feel depressed or were you already feeling this way? We should not blame social media for all our problems. For me, I have dealt with depression since before I started using social media. Thus, I cannot contribute all of my depression towards social media.
I do want to mention that social media is not all bad for mental health. Those with social anxiety may find it easier to make plans and talk to people on social media because it is not a face-to-face conversation. It is a great way to keep in touch with long distance family members or friends from school; however, social media should be used in moderation, especially if one is experiencing mental illness.