Is Social Media causing Depression?

I read an interesting article the other day and wanted to share it here.  This article really got me thinking about the impact of Social Media in our lives.

Click here to read the article

Article Summary

As the popularity of Social Media has risen only in recent years and it continues to be a growing trend.  Researchers are only now beginning to understand the risks and dangers of heavy use as this becomes a more prevalent topic.

This is especially true considering the onslaught of posts featuring photos of exotic vacations, destination weddings, new homes, purchase of the latest gadgets, baby pictures, and the list goes on.  This may leave one to believe that their life is considered underwhelming when looking at the amazing pictures of their social network “winning” at life.

The article highlights 3 main concepts:
  1. Social media and perceived isolation; 
  2. Social media and self-esteem;
  3. Disrupted concentration
One might be familiar with the experience of scrolling through a social media feed such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. and noticing that everyone else’s lives are better than yours.

However, comparing yourself to others on social media by stalking their aesthetically perfect Instagram photos or staying up to date with their relationship status on Facebook could do little to ease your feelings of self-doubt.  It’s these comparisons and a constant need to see updates from the lives of others that this gray line of “stalkerism” becomes blurry as every photo is swiped through and “liked”.

Photo by Quintin Gellar from Pexels

My Thoughts 

The argument in the article is clear that because Instagram is exclusively image-driven that it changes your perception of time and reality.  It makes it easy to believe that everyone is living happy lives, travelling the world, buying bigger houses, fancier cars, etc.  While your own life in comparison is bleak.

The methodology used in the article memo is backed by academic research, corroborated through the scientific method.  The report will use multiple sources such as written text, online publications of reliable sources, scholarly articles and other relevant mediums to provide context and support to the hidden dangers of Instagram use and self-loathing.

In my opinion, the intended audience is those that are primarily using Facebook and Instagram to go through other people’s vacation photos, new purchases, new experience and find themselves in a constant downward spiral of comparison and envy.  Research such as the ones pointed out in the article act as a means to reassess our Social Media usage.  This is why companies such as Google and Apple have recently made changes to their operating system in 2018 to track the use and time spent on our devices and be able to built-in time limits to monitor our usage.
“A photo can very powerfully provoke immediate social comparison, and that can trigger feelings of inferiority. You don’t envy a news story.” 
The article makes many valid points, when these feelings are triggered, it causes severe mental stress/depression. Dealing with this depression is not easy since the posting of new content only provides short-term mental relief before the pressure to create new fresh content mounts again. In a world with over 7 Billion in population, the competition is stiff and creativity gets challenged regularly which causes severe mental stress and we are now just beginning to understand this link and effect between Social Media use and depression.

This constant need for comparison puts us in a savage cycle where we are continually trying to get more likes/subscribers/attention. Each video or picture is expected to be better than the last. We rely so much on it for self-esteem and motivation that it becomes an unhealthy obsession. This is clear as many famous “Instagram Influencers” have taken sabbaticals/disconnected themselves from social media because the pressure keeps increasing.

The distinct set of unwritten rules, cultural assumptions and idiosyncrasies of each platform are increasingly difficult to navigate when the number of platforms used rises, which could lead to negative mood and emotions.  There is more opportunity to commit a social faux pas when using multiple platforms, which can lead to repeated embarrassments.

There is a definite importance of studying sociology/psychology, especially in today’s fast-paced ever-changing world.  The emergence of new technologies needs to be studied in order to understand the hidden impact it has on our lives.  It’s easier for physical pain to be pointed out, but the hidden dangers or mental/emotional pain may never truly manifest on the surface unless one gets to a major breaking point.  The study of sociology and psychology can help us better understand ourselves and reassess mental griefs that may be causing us harm and find a solution to help us minimize these hidden harmful effects.

What are your thoughts about the continued use of Social Media and how it has an impact on our way of thinking?  Let me know in the comments below.

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