Does Facebook Contribute to Depression?
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Facebook is one of those sites that is not like any other. More than 1/7 of the world’s population, about a billion people, can be found on the mega social media site either through a personal profile, a fan site, or a business page. As with anything else there is always a downside though. This article will look at some of the ways that Facebook may be contributing to our depression issues.
While Facebook is a great social tool for keeping up with friends, family, and a host of people that we meet around the world through groups or games, it still can’t replace, nor should it, friendship in real time. In fact it can’t. Thanks to mobile technology we can now keep up with our friends wherever we go. We can check in at our favorite hangouts and even tag our friends. If you really want to be funny, just check in at a Starbucks in Southern California and tag your bff (best Facebook friend) who lives in New York.
The New "Pen Pal"
Websites like Facebook replace the old pen pal system from our early education days where we used to write letters to friends anywhere in the world. Now you can just meet them in a group or while playing a game. If you are fortunate enough to travel to another part of the world, then you can still make a real-life friend, but there is sometimes nothing more exhilerating than meeting a social media friend in person for the first time. It makes all of those social media connections somehow seem more real.
This is actually the way relationships are designed. It’s great to expand our social circle through online networking, but social media can never replace real-world, intimate friendships. This is just the way human nature is hardwired. In fact, one of the leading causes of depression in adolescents and even adults is chronic loneliness. While it may help us feel better to connect to people through Facebook Messenger to help us feel less alone and depressed, nothing beats getting together with a friend and going out for coffee or to go see a movie. Fortunately you can also find local groups on Facebook, and even on Yahoo. Remember them? That was basically the very first social media site.
The main difference between Yahoo and Facebook is you don’t have to go into chat rooms and spend hours on end talking to people. With Facebook all you do is make a post, check-in at some random location, or share a photo. Then you just log in 2-3 times per day and check your notifications, make comments, and like other people’s comments who responded to your post. There are also other social media sites where you can find local groups that have live events and get-togethers. The biggest example is www.meetup.com. As with any other social media site, you can download the app. Next you just log into the Meetup app and see if there are any events. This will help you to plan your day and see if there are any social activities going on in your area for you to go out and make friends. You can even connect with your new friends on Facebook.
Expand Beyond Facebook
While making positive relationships solely on Facebook is not a good idea, or even what it is intended for, meeting people in person and connecting with people you already know is a positive way to really develop close friends in a more intimate way. This will go a long way towards making us feel less isolated which can lead to depression and even anxiety. Facebook was originally designed as a way to stay in touch with friends and family. Of course you can meet friends anywhere in the world and travel and still make friends in person, just like the old penpal system.
There are also some new technologies that are available within the Messenger feature. One is the voice recorder. If you get tired of typing, you just talk into the recorder and send the message. One friend said it was better than talking on the phone. Actually, it is the same thing as talking on the phone but that’s usually if you are talking into your smartphone in the first place.
Another way to connect with people on Facebook is through Social Media Marketing. You can market your business through a Facebook page and connect with a broader audience. You can also suggest friends and connect one friend with another if you feel they have a certain chemistry. You never know where that may go or what may develop. Overall, while social media may have a tendency to make us turn antisocial, there are some things that you can use sites like Facebook for that will, in fact, make you more social. When it comes to those who struggle with depression, socialization is better than isolation. Especially if you can find one or more friends that you can get to know on a more intimate level. In this case, social networking sites just provide a much bigger opportunity to connect with the world around you.
- Erwin Bishop