Social Media and Depression
The first thing I do when I wake up is check my phone. I check Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and lastly, my email.
I bet I'm not the only one who does this. I once had a friend tell me that as part of her morning routine she checks her social media, as if it were the newspaper. The average person spends god knows how many hours on their phones, sucked into the digital abyss. Even my three-year-old little brother spends maybe a total of two hours a day on his tablet (yes, a tablet bought just for him!), watching children's videos on YouTube and playing Angry Birds.
So, if we all spend so much time on the internet, what do we absorb from it? On Facebook, you may see a friend you knew a few years ago. One particular post has a lot of "likes," and it's of them receiving an award. You like it, and keep scrolling. On Instagram, a celebrity you follow has posted a photo of one of their many expensive foreign cars. You like this, too, and stop for a moment to look at a car that probably costs as much as your college tuition. You may check your Snapchat stories now, and see a friend having the time of their life on an exotic vacation. You quickly tap out of that, but soon check their Twitter and jealousy-stalk their Tweets. Social media jealousy is real, and it's a catalyst to an even bigger problem.
A study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that young adults who use social media are 2.7 times more likely to suffer from depression. More than a quarter of the 1,787 participants showed signs of high indicators of depression. So basically, the more you scroll, the sadder you may get.
Seeing all different kinds of posts from people can trigger jealousy and sadness. We're jealous of this person's appearance, or we're sad that we weren't invited to a certain event. But what we need to remember is when we see posts from other people, we're seeing the best versions of them. The filtered, edited, and carefully calculated front that they want you to see. The one that seems like someone is quite literally posting an entry from their diary on the internet.
I know for me, every photo I post on Instagram is edited with a filter that compliments me. I only post selfies of myself with my head tilted to the right to show off my cheek bones, and I hate posting photos that show my arms and legs.
But as much as my self consciousness gets in the way of my posts, I try to keep it real as much as I can. If I had a great day at the beach, I'll post a picture of me in my bikini playing in the water. It's the memories I made that make me happy and want to post the photo.
So how do we stop ourselves from falling down the rabbit hole that is social media? Even if we delete all of our accounts, that doesn't stop the pain of hearing about someone's awesome vacation or party, or so and so's cute new dog. It'll only add a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
Sometimes we all just need a break. If social media is the last thing you see before you fall asleep, take a look at all the people and accounts you follow/like/are friends with and ask yourself, "Why?" Why are you friends with them on Facebook, does this account make you happy or sad? If you have to justify staying connected with them online, unfollow them. If you haven't talked to them in months (In real life!), odds are you won't be talking to them anytime soon. Maybe it's time to say goodbye to their daily coffee photos in your feed.
I'm not saying all of your Facebook or Instagram friends are liars or annoying people. I'm just saying to remember that someone's profile does not accurately depict their real life. And when a particular post sparks even the tiniest bit of jealousy, do yourself a favor—log off and go live your life.