Updated: Feb 22
We live in a false, social reality. We see our friends and influencers living their lives unapologetically on-line. It’s easy to start to compare that “reality”, with our own lives. But what happens when our lives and experiences don’t measure up to the status quo? Is social media making you depressed?
The short answer; possibly. It’s subjective and only you can really answer the effect that your exposure to social media is weighing on you and your psyche. But there are definitely some tell tale signs that can help you form a more definitive answer for yourself.
Does social media have you feeling down?
People like to put their best foot forward and to make a good impression. Even more so when 1 million people are following them. Before you start to size up you life with that person you follow on social, keep that in mind. Many of the socially famous people you follow also get paid to post about what they are posting about, or there is some other benefit to them. That means it’s a business. Like any other business they probably go through 35 pictures to get the perfect shot and 25 minutes of thinking of the perfect caption.
I don’t have 1 million followers on any platform, but I do run a few businesses and use social media to market them and talk to my demographic. I intentionally only post things that make sense for that particular brand. That means nothing negative, mean, too sad, or hot button-it doesn’t work for the brand. While it may appear you’re following a person, that person is the brand and as such, has to be mindful of the social image they create. So don’t get so caught up in comparisons with someone is job it is to sell an image.
This “perfect shot” was edited to bring out the colors in the sky because it was taken on an overcast day. We also had to take about 20 different pictures before we got the one with the wave breaking behind me. Immediately after the shot, the wave drug me out about 3 feet into the ocean, causing me to fall.
Put The Phone Down
As a society, we spend so much time on social media. Too much time. Try putting your phone down and limiting how much time you spend on line. Making real connections with real people irl, may help with any depressed feelings you experience.
In my house I made a rule that there are no phones during dinner time, family time and after a certain time of the day (in my house phones have to be down by 10pm). It allows us to talk more, have people time and stay connected.
It reinforces the importance of family, and takes it away from social media. When I’m with my nieces, parents, and brothers family/in-laws, we’re rarely on the phone. We spend the majority of our days together, filled with activities and we create memories.
What About Bad Influences
If you’re following someone that makes you feel bad about yourself, the way you eat, or any facet of your life; unfollow them immediately. Obviously, they don’t know that they are making you feel this way, but it’s important that you control the energy that you expose yourself to. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FOLLOW THEM. This applies to family, friends, and strangers. If you feel depressed or bad about your life, hit that unfollow button.
Conversely, there are tons of people on line that are motivating and focus on positivity and self improvement. Go follow one of those people and expose yourself to a more positive energy that promotes you loving yourself and feeling better about yourself.
It’s important to call out here that if you, a child, or someone you love is being bullied on social media, unfollow and block those people immediately. If you are being threatened by these people notify authorities, an adult or anyone that can help you.
Take A Break From It All
I’ve followed some people who will put up a post that says they’re taking a social media break for a week (or however long they feel they need to), in order to focus on mental health. If you ever feel like your exposure to social media is too much and it’s causing you to feel depressed, take a break and return only when you’re feeling better.
Get Professional Help
I majored in psychology and was taught how important mental health is. But many people still put a stigma around the topic. It is ok to need to talk to someone. There are some problems that we as humans go through that are too much for our best friends or moms to help us with (even more so if our network is part of the problem). There are some problems that we need to speak to a professional councilor, psychologist or psychiatrist in order to resolve. That is ok.
Stigma aside, you and your mental health are more important than any judgement that someone may pass because you seek it out.
Stop Over Sharing
While we all love to talk about the amazing things happening in our lives, all social outlets allow our followers the opportunity to reply back to us or comment. Think about what you’re posting, and if it’s going to make you feel too vulnerable or you think you won’t like the comments you receive, either turn off comments or don’t share it. Do your followers need to know you stole your best friends boyfriend and now you’re surprised at the comments you’re getting?
While this may be an extreme example, I think you get the point.
It’s nasty in the world of current events right now and that in and of itself, can make anyone feel depressed. Keep in mind that many of the people on social media are able to post what they want, whether true or false from any source. If this is weighing on you, unfollow/mute them. You don’t have to engage or get into arguments on-line with family to protect or explain your point of view. You have the right to scroll past it.
Read information from factual sources and don’t engage. I’ve found that many international news sources are great at reporting the facts on various topics going on in the news, especially as it relates to American politics. They don’t have a vested interest to report one way or another and often report on what actually happens. Just my experience and opinion.
Social media can be great if we use it to help build or empower, but it can be so harmful when used incorrectly. It’s so subjective and what works for me won’t work for you. You’ll have to find and follow people that make you feel good about going onto your feed. With some self reflection, you’ll get there. Be patient with yourself, be mindful of what you expose yourself to and set some parameters to help you get started.
Do you get depressed using social media? Comment below.