Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Social Media Depression

Social media is the lifeline of many. Whether it's bloggers, attention-seekers, insta-thots, many rely on social media for their attention-fixes and coins. We have become obsessed with social media. It dominates our lives. Keeping in mind all of that, it really comes to no surprise that studies have surfaced declaring that social media can be a source of depression.

Social media is an easy way to engineer your public persona. You can be a dishonest, untrustworthy and an unkind thug in real life, but online you are an intellectual social activist, your judgment is clear and logical, and you are nice and well-mannered. You are even the most ideal guy to have ever walked the planet, posting relationship goals, and letting the world know that you spoil your girl with flowers every day, even cooking for her from time to time.

You can con catfish people into thinking you are all of these great things you're portraying when in reality you're probably just 0.1% of the image you're portraying. The same goes for appearances - first came the Instagram filters and now many social media users take photos with their DSLRs and doctor them using Photoshop before the photos go up on Instagram. Best believe that the photo they posted is one out of 400 they took in that session.

I admit that I use social media on a regular basis. I also admit that my use of it became unhealthy. But in my defence, with the sort of work that I do (or did) I kind of needed to be on social media, and be up to date with what's happening in the world, and also be there to update the world what was happening in, let's say, South Sudan.

But at risk of exuding a 'holier than thou' vibe in this particular post, I was never really concerned with image, popularity, and getting likes and shares (particularly on photos). Social media was more of a tool for me, to get information, to send information and to connect with people. This year I learned that connecting with people does not require a social media account. I also learned that I don't need to be connected to so many people or be so accessible. I gathered that Facebook was not a necessity in my life so I quit it a few months ago.

With social media you control what you share, and boy do people love to set up a wonderful show about their lives, and how amazing it is, and how much people love them, and how great they and their families are, when often in reality, it's the total opposite.

People see how wonderful things are going in someone else's lives, and therefore grow a little bit resentful, even feeling inadequate. You have to remember that you cannot ever compare your background to someone's front stage - you cannot compare what happens in your real life to what someone else is portraying to the world via social media. It's not only damaging, but it's also an unfair and unnecessary comparison. Unnecessary because your life is independent of theirs - everyone accomplishes things at different stages, and everyone wants different things.

By the same token, photos on social media can be quite deceptive. We may think someone is pretty, has all the right angles, has beautiful hair and skin... until you see their Snapchat where they cannot actually alter photos or videos beyond the basic filters provided. Another interesting thing to note is that many (some have admitted this to me) just take photos and capture anything and everything just for it to be posted to social media. They will write, ''going out!! #nightout #TGIF,'' when in reality that outfit they are wearing will find its way back into the closet after 100's of photos, and he/she will be getting back into their onesie watching Neflix with Ben & Jerry's ice cream. All of this can be easily blamed on the thirst for likes and comments.

Likes and comments have become ways to feel validated. I have seen people delete and repost things because they didn't get enough likes. I have seen people asking others to like and share their things. I have also noticed positive reinforcement. If you are discussing a particular topic, or discussing it in a particular way, depending on the positive responses (comments or likes), you are more likely to repeat that topic or the similar way of discussing it.

So if you are a heavy social media user, use it responsibly. Be careful of who you trust and who you let into your life. Be careful of what you share (the internet never forgets). Lastly, don't forget that social media accounts can go down, while your real life continues to go on.