Social Media and Depression – What You Can Do
Social media platforms help us connect with people, share our experiences, and even conduct business. The majority of us use multiple platforms on a daily basis, skipping back and forth between the applications. But there’s also a flipside to this shiny coin – it is called addiction and depression. In this article, we’ll take a look into how social media can create depression and how to cope with it.
How Social Media Keeps You Hooked?
The very existence of social media depends on keeping users logged in for as long as possible. And to achieve that, they use some pretty neat techniques and a deep knowledge of how the human psyche works. The fact that they’re as successful as they are means they know what they’re doing. A study conducted at Nottingham Trent University posits that “Facebook Addiction Disorder” might be a real thing.
First, social media platforms utilize powerful algorithms to study and predict your behavior. They also use them to define your preferences and serve you more of the stuff you like and interact with. For example, if you commented, followed, or reacted to a post regarding a school shooting, it is very likely that the algorithm will serve you more of the same content in the future.
Second, all social media platforms rely heavily on dopamine triggers. In other words, they generously reward us for spending our time on the site or in the app. This reward comes in the form of notifications, likes, comments, and a host of other features. For example, you know that feeling of trepidation when you post a new photo on Facebook and the overwhelming relief when the likes and comments start coming in. That’s how dopamine triggers work in a nutshell.
How is it All Linked to Depression?
There are several ways which link social media to depression. On social media you’re constantly faced with the idealized representations of other peoples` lives, which might make you compare your imperfect life to that perfect snapshot and, in turn, make you feel bad about yourself.
Jealousy is another negative feeling social media can provoke in their users. Seeing all of their friends’ posts and photos from various parties, events, and vacations might make some users feel jealous and push them into a vicious cycle of trying to outdo their peers. Furthermore, social media can help increase a person’s feelings of isolation and not belonging, as this study found.
Last but not least, there’s cyberbullying. This type of social mistreatment happens mostly among teens and adolescents and can potentially have devastating effects on a bullied youngster’s life. One of the reasons that it might be more dangerous than bullying in school is that on social media it can occur at any time, be it day or night.
What to Do About it?
The first thing you might want to do when trying to cope with social media-induced depression is to start phasing it out and replacing it with offline activities. You might want to decrease the time you spend scrolling through your Facebook feed, twitter posts or Instagram photos. Allocate time for your favorite apps and stick to it.
After you’ve successfully limited your time on social media, you might want to start abstaining. You don’t have to delete your accounts, but you can set periods of time during which you will not log in. Start with two to three-day periods and increase them gradually as you progress. Do not worry if you experience withdrawal or a slight increase in anxiety. It is normal and it will pass as you adjust to the new tempo of life.
Replace your online time with useful and meaningful offline activities. These might include reading, studying, learning a new skill, physical exercise, yoga, meditation, and many more. Take that pottery class you always wanted to take or sign up for salsa lessons. Pick your favorites and fill up that time you spent swiping, scrolling, and liking with something productive and meaningful.
The most important and best technique to beat the depression caused by social media is to reconnect with your offline friends. As this study found, there’s a limited number of friends the human brain can effectively handle. Also, the same study concluded that offline contact is crucial to maintaining a friendship. People with strong interpersonal relationships are a lot less likely to experience depression.
Ditching social media completely is not necessary to beating social media-induced depression. Decrease the time you spend on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and the like, and start spending more time offline. Take things into your own hands and build a meaningful life offline. We hope you found this article helpful and if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.