• Patrick McAndrew

Have I Made You Depressed?

Have I made you depressed?  I certainly hope not! But just because that is not my intention, does not mean it’s not happening.

Social media expert, Bailey Parnell, gave an amazing TED talk early this year.  She discusses the question as to whether or not social media is hurting our mental health.  Our growing obsession with social media indeed does have long-term effects on our mental health and Parnell discusses the “4 Stressors on Social Media” associated with this.  These stressors are:

  • Highlight Reel

  • Social Currency

  • Fear of Missing Out (F.O.M.O.)

  • Online Harassment

Parnell discusses how our highlight reel is what we showcase to the world.  It’s common that we meet negative Nancys in the real world on a regular basis, but on social media the highlight reel often only showcases our finest moments and experiences.  Because of this, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to the perceived awesome life of our Facebook friends.  As Parnell states, “we compare our friends’ highlight reels to our behind-the-scenes.”  So, our lives tend to look bleak and mundane compared to our hang-gliding over an erupting volcano in an exotic world friend.  But, so often we do not realize that our hang-gliding over an erupting volcano in an exotic world friend hates his 9-5 job and saved up for five years in order to go on this trip.

Social currency is another stressor that popped out for me.  We crave likes and loves.  We are endlessly seeking validation on the pictures we post.  I always try to figure out what makes people “like” certain blog posts that I put up over of others.  If we don’t get caught up in this, it’s fine.  But if we are judging our self-worth and the value of our content based on how many likes we receive, we are heading down a deep, dark path.

F.O.M.O. is an interesting concept for me.  I find the ones who experience F.O.M.O. the most tend to be the ones who spend the most time engaged with their phones, whether it be on social media or some other website.  Isn’t this funny?  We get upset that we are going to miss out on a party or social gathering of some sort and, once we are there, we are completely disengaged.  We are ironically missing out.  I guess people also suffer from F.O.M.O. with regards to missing out within an online context, too.  But I don’t know, not much is going on online.  If it’s important enough, you can bet your bottom you will hear about it in real time.

And finally, online harassment.  This is just stupid.  It sucks that it happens.  And it just creates a coward out of the one that’s doing the harassing.  Some people feel they need to assert their “dominance” within an online world and because of the issues we are discussing, the receiving end attaches their self-worth to what is being said to them.  It’s a cycle that needs to end immediately.

Parnell concludes her TED talk by expressing ways in which we can find a balance with social media.  Clearly, its not going anywhere.  Social media is great and a wonderful tool to use if used effectively!  But we do need to limit our consumption.  If we start scrolling and scrolling and comparing and comparing, we are going no where good.  It will not only eat up productive time, but it will start to diminish our self-image.

We can’t really compare ourselves to anyone else.  We can’t.  I know, I know, easier said than done, but it is possible!  We all have our awesomeness and we all have a little somethin’ somethin’ that others would rather not take on.  When we begin to focus on how we can be the best version of our self instead of trying to be better than the other person, that’s when we are heading in the right direction.  We can never be “better” than anyone and, on the flipside, they can never be “better” than us.  It is true that we are all equal, with our own gifts and talents that we must share with the world.

As the famous Eleanor Roosevelt saying goes, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  I love that quote because it’s so true.

What are your thoughts?  Do you believe social media plays a negative role in your mental health?  If so, what can we do to improve this?  Comment below!


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