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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

9

Syria Conflict & Bible Prophecy

Sarin gas victim, Syria

Sarin gas victim, Syria (Photo credit: Ninian Reid)

O.k., first let me say that I am by no means a Bible scholar.  I just wish to shed light on a subject that has come to the the forefront as of recent, even making its way to national news outlets such as Fox News:  Whether the recent activity in Syria points to the impending fulfillment of Bible prophecy or not.  http://video.foxnews.com/v/2660399900001/biblical-prophecy-of-syrian-crisis/

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I grew up with a healthy or unhealthy fear of the “end times.”  I used to feel afraid when I saw my dad watching the world news.  Some of the things I saw happening in other countries just seemed very scary.  And I knew that these events were analyzed in my immediate sphere of influence as a sign of the end times.  It also seemed that the election of certain presidents throughout my childhood hinted at the demise of “Christianity” and the final judge and rule of God.  But I’m not quite sure where I picked up that idea.  So no pointing fingers.

At a young age, I just wanted all of the scary stuff to go away.  I wanted to live in hope for my future and believe that I’d live a full and happy life regardless of what was happening around the world.

Somewhere in the span of my “finding a mate” years, my attention was never drawn to subjects such as Biblical prophecy and my mind was mainly focused on building a family and making money to support that family.

Fast forward to an irreversible adulthood and the awareness of my existence has shrunken to a meaningless speck of dust on the world map.  And it seems impossible to ignore all the signs of something happening- that surround me.  My point of reference keeps shifting though–like I’m getting jerked back and forth by one of those unfriendly roller coasters that may or may not be safe.

One day, I’m living on the surface, aware that I need to take my daughter to school, make sure a few shirts are ironed, cook dinner for my family, go to bed only to wake up and do it again.  On another day, I come across videos of children (who are my children’s ages) in Syria choking from some sort of chemical weapon attack.  And on yet another day, to my spirit’s regret, I waste my time watching one of the Hollywood movies that to me, makes light of some of the most gruesome acts of violence against humanity one could think to commit- all in the name of entertainment.

Amidst all of this, I read articles about the latest “trends” in worship and how it affects a Christian’s “experience” of God.  In-between I get stuck on some message boards of naysayers who are making self-assured fun of the Biblical nuts who keep getting their prophecy timelines wrong.  And then I sporadically think, well even if I’m nuts, perhaps it would be advantageous for me to at least call attention on Twitter and Facebook to the recent correlation between the latest happenings in Syria and the possible fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

So then I Tweet.   And I wonder if the “Christians” who “follow” me on Twitter will re-tweet, so that they may be a conduit of some “warning” that ‘all may not be well in the world’ and in fact that ‘Jesus may be coming soon, so don’t worry so much about what to eat or drink or post on Twitter.’  That the next worship retreat may be a little less relevant in the scheme of global news.  But not one person has re-tweeted me yet.  And not one person on FB has shared my update or liked it, for that matter.

What is interesting, or at least to me, is that it isn’t the current events that led me to explore my Bible.  It was my Bible that led me to explore current events (I was reading some prophetic passages in the Old Testament and remembered something about Syria that had passed my mind in the form of a dream, so I Googled Syria and Bible prophecy).  The more I read my Bible, the more the culture in which I live seems extremely irrelevant and almost sinisterly laughable.  But don’t get me wrong, I do question my sanity and the way that I process Scripture.

I assume that the reason Bible passages seem in such stark contrast to how I’m currently gauging my life’s meaning, is because my reading of the Bible is biased toward the way I was raised–to believe that the Bible is actually true and not just a book from which to pick random passages to recite on Sunday morning.  Call me crazy, but what is the point of believing in God, if we do not at the same time, believe we are a part of the history or future of things prophesied in God’s Word?

I absolutely hate the fact that the Bible inconveniences us in such a way that it doesn’t exactly align with the fairy tales we tell our children.  But how can we go to church Sunday after Sunday (or stay at home Sunday after Sunday), purporting to be Christians, yet disassociating ourselves with the reality of the tragic events that are ACTUALLY happening across the world?  And by disassociating, I mean continuing to live the same lifestyle, the lifestyle that by all outward appearance gives witness to the fact that we do not actually believe God is an active agent in the world.  Our moments of silence will only take us so far.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not sure what I believe.  I say I believe in Jesus because I think I believe that’s what will save me from hell.   I say I believe in God’s Word because it’s what gives testament to the other things which I also say I believe.   But my days are more concerned with my life from the angle of my lifetime on earth, NOT with my life from the perspective of eternity.  Half of my time is spent languishing the fact that I’m not more popular or that I’m not one of those “cool” people who easily attracts friends.  The other half of my time is spent regretting the inconvenience of knowing there are others who have less than me.

For those who say the Bible should be completely written off as a collection of fables, they only say that from the comfort and safety of their own couch.  I guarantee you that if they were a little closer to the happenings in the major parts of the world where war and famine reign, they would think a little bit harder about “choosing this day who’d they serve.”  They’d spend a little less time laughing at Hollywood’s sick disregard for humanity and a little bit more time fighting for life, fighting to find the Truth about life and death because death seems a wee bit more inevitable.

So how is Syria and Biblical prophecy related to us?  Why does it matter if we believe in God’s Word or not?  Are world events relevant to us and our children?  What is the safety, the assurance that you hold in your heart today?  From firsthand experience, having been exposed to International politics in some round about ways, I can tell you that America is a stack of cards.  I love the fact that I was born in America and that I’ve been safe up to this point–that I have freedom to write what I’m writing and that my children weren’t just gassed to death by our government.  But don’t be fooled, God is not mocked.  America is not our Savior and peace is only God’s to give.

I don’t understand why so many Americans and even Christians laugh off the talk about “impending doom.”  But yet they love to watch movies about aliens and disease that threaten to destroy humanity in a final showdown after which only TWO humans will survive thereafter to populate the earth again.  Do you see the irony in millions of dollars being spent to give moviegoers the high of watching criminal activities take place on a big screen, when the evil is ACTUALLY alive and well in our world, killing the lives of many?

Maybe the reason we’re so slow to believe, is because we’ve never been face to face with death.

Perhaps the reason Christianity is becoming more and more irrelevant is because it’s become the religion of marginality.

If in fact, we spent a few days up against famine and sword, our hearts and minds would turn to finding answers beyond our own reason and imagination.

Some will say it’s selfish for others to “focus” on impending doom, stealing the “quality” of life away from their children by turning into apocalyptic nuts.  And I used to feel the same, as a child who still felt or hoped that I had a lifetime to live.  But what about all the children who were just gassed?  Is it fair to them that we evaluate life only by our own sense of “national security?”

I could go on.

4

A Mother’s Morning

Once you become a mother, your mornings are never the same again.
It’s like boot camp morning for the rest of your life.  And this is life.
Or maybe this too shall pass.
I know that father’s lives change too, but I’ll leave that to the fathers to discuss.
You see, once a mother, your mornings are no longer your own.
When you don’t have any children, and you wake up in a bad mood, you can kind of glide through your morning, avoid people, and hope that soon enough your mood will improve before you start taking your anger out on others.
But once you’re a mother, getting up in the morning, is no longer just a matter of rolling out of bed and taking care of yourself–making sure your hair is straight, brushing your teeth, fixing yourself a cup of coffee and waiting for your chipper self to show up.
No.
And I miss those days.
Those days where I can wake up and stare into space as I follow my morning routine.
I’ve never liked to talk in the morning, much less yell.
But now it’s required.  It’s a pre-requisite to the day.
You see, I hadn’t prepared the night before.  I left the dirty dishes from dinner.
I ignored the mess my children had made,
the very same mess I’d already cleaned up 5 times already that day.
And just couldn’t bare to bend over one more time.
Surely the toys can spend one night out of their bin.
So I spent a while on Twitter practicing that blank stare I miss so much,
watching, but not really, the updates roll over the screen.
But I really couldn’t relax, because I wondered what people were thinking of me.
A mother not doing her chores yet yelling at her children for not doing their chores.
But I mindlessly updated my Twitter status instead of sweeping, scrubbing floors, laying out school clothes for the next day, checking homework and folding clothes.
In-between, yet again yelling at my children to go back to bed,
thinking that surely it was time for a Super Nanny intervention,
or better yet, a revelation from God about what I’m doing wrong as a mother.
And then the morning came again.
Full throttle, shocking, feet on the cold floor morning.
Your mornings will never be the same again, from the time you birth that first child.
Sometimes, I start dreading my mornings.
So bad that I want to run away and get a new morning.
I don’t want to wake up, because I know that my day will be dictated by serving others.
I secretly envy my teenage daughters who wake up and fix themselves something to eat, smelling like roses as they get ready to go to their college classes.
And I remember those days…the days when I only had myself to feed.
I’m hungry, but so is everyone else and they need to be fed from the moment they wake up.
Their hunger is insatiable and they love to say my name, “mommy.”
I don’t think I like my name anymore.
I don’t even think anyone in the house knows…
how much cream and sugar I like in my coffee.
But that’s another post for another time.
Good morning!
(Wonder if Mandisa has children?!?)……I love the song anyway 🙂