When Social Media Meets Depression

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“Its not the same!” Her face was flush with anxiety and disappointment. Gwen's mother put her arm around her sobbing daughter.  It was an all-night cry fest and there was no way fix it.  The tears flowed freely like a dam that had ruptured from heartache.

“Have you talked to Tim about it yet?” Usually her mother's voice was soothing in times of great distress. Today wasn't one of those days.  Gwen buried her face deeper into her mom's shoulder try to quell some of the pain.

“No mom,” she replied. “How do you start that conversation? Gee, I was taking a closer look and it looked funny so I-”

“Okay, okay.” The hysterics were getting so bad, Gwen's mom had to deploy advanced tactics, the pat and rub, on Gwen's back harking back to the days when she was an infant." 

“Well maybe it was a mistake. Maybe he was duped.”

“No, he wasn't” Gwen replied and began fiddling around in her pocket, producing a crumpled receipt in hand. She held it up to her mother's face while keeping her head buried.

Gwen's mom quickly scanned the line items on the piece of paper. Yup, he knew. Time had tried to pull a fast one.  Gwen's engagement ring was a cubic zirconia. This was going to be a long night.

THE REAL DEAL 

Your friends list is stacked.  You have hundreds of people on it from close relatives to old high school buddies.  You know that Franny had a baby last week, George got pulled over for speeding and Helena broke up with Stan. And you didn't even have to talk to them. You are all up to date on the people in your life. So why do you feel so lonely? Because reading a post or a tweet isn't the same as actually seeing someone, that's why. 

Social Media Depression is the new way researchers are describing the ill affects of spending too much time online as opposed to connecting with other people in real life. The University of Michigan decided to take a look at this phenomenon and see if self described Facebook addicts were suffering from bouts of depression. It was comprised of 82 people (all in their late teens to early twenties). They were watched for two straight weeks and had to report in five times a day to the researchers.

The study found that those who actually talked on the phone or met with their contacts in person always scored more positive than those who used Facebook for their primary source of information and social contact. In other words, the more they got away from their computer, the better they felt mentally! Dr. Ethan Kross, head researcher for the study, concluded that, in his opinion, Facebook hindered mental well-being.  

In support of this theory, Scientists at the Darmstadt's Technical Univeristy in Germany recently stumbled upon what they think is the root cause of social media depression – jealousy. 584 participants partook in the study. They observed people being jealous of everything from new jobs, new relationships, good looking photos and more!

Social media is good when you want to keep in touch with family and up to date with friends but studies like these show it is not a replacement for the real thing.

Social media is in its infancy when it comes to research. But already we can see that it may just be pretty on the outside and not very fulfilling on the inside. So go call your mother and tell her you love her instead of posting it. I bet it may just make you both smile. 

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