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What Science says about Social Media and Clinical Depression

O.k. not science.  Not really.  But let’s assume for a moment that our social media addictions are parading around disguised as acute little episodes of clinical depression.

WebMD says that  “A constant sense of hopelessness and despair is a sign you may have clinical depression. With major depression, it may be difficult to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy friends and activities.”  In addition, “Clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships.”

I’m not saying Social Media is the reason you MAY be clinically depressed.  I’m saying the effects of Social Media strikingly emulate the effects of clinical depression.  Since I’m truly NOT a numbers cruncher or data analyst, I’ll just put it out there that this article is about shoddy inference more than anything.  Though, looking at the graphs I’ve included below, some of you more scientifically minded (Dr. Aunt Kim) might be able to draw a few correlations between the depression and social media stats and develop a full fledged study of the two.

But for now, let’s just have some fun.  To those of you who love to use Google for self-diagnosis, not unlike myself,  I just wanted to point out that you may want to skip the anti-depressant and go for less time on Social Media instead, because:

1.  Social Media may invoke a constant sense of hopelessness and despair.
I’ve always felt hopeless in relation to social media.  I NEVER wanted to sign up initially.  Cross my heart and hope to die.  I felt forced to register for LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc. in order to stay current with “the times.”  What could invoke a feeling of despair more than keeping a constant tally of likes, followers, friends and useless facts?  Not to mention, digesting an endless running dialogue regarding the successes AND failures of those closest and not so closest to you.  Twitter tops it all.  Thousands, maybe millions of people constantly trying to come up with something clever-er to say so that someone they don’t even know will re-tweet in hopes that people they don’t know will do the same so that it can then be marked as a successful thing said?  Just putting it into words is hopelessly exhausting.  And then there’s always the chance that the STUPID thing you tweet is what finally goes viral.  Yay!  LinkedIn?  Endless connections with “professionals” you know to the third degree, or whatever–so that you can finally network your way to the job you’ve always wanted?

Then there’s the business aspect.  Where is the quantifiable research that businesses actually benefit from spending ANY portion of their budget on social media?  Sure.  There are studies.  The even more desperate part of my unbelief in the widespread flock to social media marketing is that I’ve tried to fake my way through interviews for “Social Media Marketing” positions. Needless to say, I’m not good at “faking it.”

On a personal note, I have still yet to take a professional photo of my family all dressed in color coordinated fashions to put my best foot forward on Facebook.  And if one more person posts on FB that they’re experiencing a “difficult” situation and DOES NOT give the details,  I promise I’m going to embarrass myself by commenting.  But it looks like the only recourse I have is miserably reading the empathetic comments of others who seem to be fine “praying” for these unsaid “difficult” situations whilst feigning no interest in the details whatsoever.  Un-friending just seems so anti-climactic.  Pinterest?  Truly for the narcissist.  Or maybe that’s just because I haven’t signed up yet.  Anyway, you get my point.  Social media is an unending fountain of hopelessness and despair.  And even though I’ve been feeling “Clinically Depressed” for quite sometime, I still sign in.  Daily.
2.  Social Media may make it difficult to work, study, sleep and eat (o.k.  maybe that one’s a stretch!)
Actually social media DOES make it difficult to eat too.  Most of the time one hand is dedicated to scrolling through the latest updates and another hand is dedicated to lunch and the delicate feat of trying not to drop crumbs and juices on our device.  But I would venture to say that for most of us, social media intermittently, if not regularly, interferes with our ability to work, study and sleep.  It’s self evident, really.  How many of you are logged into Facebook right now?  How many of you spend more time researching the life of long lost friends–trying to determine who landed the better looking spouse, THAN researching what may make you a more viable employee at work?  How many of us have lost sleep over the comment stream that just simply crushed our ego?  How many minutes of studying can you manage to work in without checking to see if your boyfriend/girlfriend “to-be” signed on yet?  Yes, it’s true.  Shock!  Social media MAY make it harder for us to work, study, sleep and eat.
3.  Social Media could cause a feeling of depression for most of the day, especially in the morning.
No need to elaborate on this one.  The morning commute can get awfully lonely without access to firsthand updates on the latest foibles of your friend’s day.
4.  Social Media may cause a loss of interest in NORMAL activities and relationships. 
Now. Now.  Let’s not say we’ve lost interest in NORMAL activities and relationships.  Let’s just say we’re defining the NEW NORMAL.

social media demographics in 2013