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Is Facebook Making You Depressed?

We have all done it. You know the scene. It is 2 am, you have a glass of wine in one hand and the mouse in the other. You are scrolling through the status of Brittney Whats-her-name, the prom queen from your high school to see if she is fat now. You’ve done it. Admit it. The question is not, is Brittney fat. The question we have to be asking is, does Facebook make us depressed?

“Facebook is making us unhappy and causing people who suffer “Facebook envy” to be particularly depressed, a study has found.” This is according to Peter Walker who was quoting research done at the University of Copenhagen. According to the present study, people who use Facebook as a habitual pastime are being affected in a way than can lead to depression and a negative outlook on their lives. Many times Facebook doesn’t actually cause depression but can exacerbate an existing state of depression.Upon further research though, it is not just the use of Facebook that causes depression, but the way people use it.

If you are using Facebook to stalk people or to see what the head cheerleader from high school is up to, you are using Facebook in a way that can lead to depression. The research says that using Facebook in a passive way can lead to making you feel unfulfilled with your own life. Scrolling down the never ending feed of happy faces and friends on vacation can make users feel envious of others, especially when life is not perfect.

Another way Facebook can leave you down in the dumps is when you don’t get the “Likes” that are expected. Some Facebook users post updates and then judge themselves on how many “Likes” they get. In Facebook terms, “A Like” is equivalent to a social thumbs up, a pat on the back, or a “you are awesome”. When a post is made and nobody “Likes” it, you can feel rejected by your peers. It might seem silly because of course, this is all online and not in real life, but the rejection still feels real.


So is there anything to do, or are we all just doomed to late night binges on Oreos and status updates?

 

There is hope for all the people out there who end up feeling bummed after a night of studying the status updated of every past boyfriend. Follow these tips and you will see, Facebook can actually end up making you feel good.

First of all, start using Facebook for you. Don’t use Facebook as a place to check your popularity. Facebook will let you down every time. Post things that are important to you and about you (and your Corgi named Mr. Wiggles.) Start using Facebook like a time line. Document important events in your life that you want to remember forever. It truly is equivalent to an online scrap book. Be authentic and your friends will respond. Even if they don’t respond, that is okay, because you are posting for you and not for the validation of others.

Second, expand your friend list. I know many people are still leery of Facebook, so take it slow. A great way to expand your friend list is to go on interesting groups in Facebook from your area. For example, I typed in “Oak Forest groups” in the search bar within Facebook and a whole list of Oak Forest Groups came up. I clicked on the “Walking Moms Group”. It looked very interesting and I joined. Once I joined, I began “friending” other moms who would comment an interesting opinion or just seemed nice. These new “friends” made my feed more interesting. You might find a new friend which might even make you smile.

Third, start commenting on other people’s posts. Many times, users go on Facebook and just read other people’s posts. This is equivalent to sitting on the side lines or being a wall flower. You need to participate to really enjoy Facebook. It really is half the fun. When your cousin get a promotion, congratulate her. When your high school friend posts about a bad day, commiserate with her. When your neighbor has her baby, celebrate with her. Friends will start to see your posts, and will reciprocate the good feelings.

Fourth, try to stay away from posting negative or very personal thoughts or situations. Facebook is not the place to do this. Users on Facebook do not react well or react at all to very negative, depressing or personal posts. Most of your friends on Facebook are really acquaintances; people you know from work or your kid’s baseball coach. Most of your friends on Facebook care, but not that much. This is not the group of people you want to share your deepest, darkest thoughts with. Posting something personal is the social equivalent to walking into the PTO meeting and shouting your husband is having an affair. Always keep in mind that Facebook is a public forum. If you have a doubt about your post, imagine it as a headline in the local newspaper. If you wouldn’t want it there, don’t post it.

Fifth, put some effort into your home page. This is the place that people will go to check you out. Post a nice picture of yourself. If you don’t have a nice picture of yourself, go take one. Put up some pictures of your motorcycle or whatever is important to you. Update your information. Share what you have been doing, where you are working, books you find interesting. Your home page is the equivalent to a first impression so make it a good one. Your home page should represent you in a way that makes you feel proud.

Lastly, don’t use Facebook when you are bored. Go on Facebook with purpose. You are not on Facebook to scroll down the page of name less faces who are going on much better vacations than you. You are going on Facebook to share your story with others and vise versa. Watch the amount of time you spend on it too. Don’t spend more than 20 minutes a day. Too much of a good thing, is a bad thing.

Take it from a recovering “Facebook Envyer”. If you follow these steps, you will not only get over your Facebook depression, but will start really enjoying your friends on Facebook. You might even start using emojis. Okay, let’s not get crazy!

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