Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others – have gone global, and that was the point after all, to keep individuals connected with others both near and far. While Great Britain uses social media approximately as much as the United States, other countries are not as involved, such as India. However, usage is picking up in these countries as well, and with it, a host of problems that users may not have considered before they created their first social media profile.
According to dna india, a study out of Britain linked 20 percent of social media users with depression. This amasses around 6.9 million users who are feeling anxious or depressed with trying to keep up with appearances of fellow “friends” on Facebook and other social media networks.
Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said that they would not upload a picture unless they looked attractive in it. More than a third of people felt pressure to “like” a friend’s status regardless if they truly liked it or not. Nearly a quarter said that they felt they must accept friend requests from people at work no matter what, and a quarter of users have gotten into written altercations online with other social media users. This leaves people wondering, then: if it makes you miserable, why do it?
Some may not be fully cognizant about what is causing their depression, only that they feel more depressed or anxious after looking at others’ statuses. They also may feel guilty for not being happy for others’ successes.
However, what is portrayed on social media is not always representative of a person’s life. Many people post only happy things or things that place them in a positive light: winning awards, getting engaged, going on vacation, buying a new car. Most people don’t post about their job loss or miscarriage or pain at being left off the invitation list. This can give users the false idea that everyone’s life is considerably better than theirs and leave them feeling anxious and depressed.
Nick Harrop, a campaign manager at YoungMinds in the U.K., says this is a dangerous situation for those who are prone to depression or anxiety.
“Social media puts enormous pressure on young people to live their lives in the public domain, to present a personal ‘brand’ from a young age, and to seek reassurance in the form of likes and shares. We have heard from our supporters about how social media and the ‘Instagram lifestyle’, where everyone else’s life can seem perfect compared to yours, can evoke feelings of worthlessness or even panic.”
Psychologist Seema Higorranay says that people are seeing distorted portrayals of peoples’ lives, and that causes them to distort their thinking in terms of what a normal existence is.
“Mostly, I see young teens getting affected by this form of depression and we call it Virtual Depression. They come with complaints of feeling low, having social media phobia, self-obsession and very high need to prove or seek approval from others on social media. Also, another co-related problem that I see is co-dependency on others for their emotions, narcissistic attitude towards life. The age group is 12 to 25 and more and present in both boys and girls.”
The problem does not end with young people, however. Another group that is highly affected by what they read and see on social media are homemakers and young parents. They often report feelings of isolation or anxiety after seeing profiles of people that they believe to be more successful, and some become preoccupied with the lives and statuses of past love interests, which can harm relationships.
It is difficult to maintain a realistic perspective of life when it is viewed through a social media profile. It is important to remember that everyone has bad days, bad pictures, fears and disappointments in life.
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