Posted by Emily Tozer
You’re having a bit of a bad day. You got an exam back with a big red D on the front, your phone died halfway through an important conversation and your hair looks like you walked through a wind tunnel. So you log onto Facebook to check out what your friends are up to. Statuses like, “Aced all my classes this semester! So glad my hard work paid off.” and, “Going out for dinner with the best boyfriend in the world <3” and photos of pretty, smiling friends litter your news feed and it seems like everyone is having better days than you. Are you alone? No. Facebook-triggered depression is something that has been showing up in the news quite regularly.
American Academy of Pediatrics’ study of the the impact of social media on children, adolescents and families reported that the “intensity of the online world is thought to be a factor that may trigger depression.” Another study by Stanford University showed that Facebook users tend to underestimate their peers’ negative experiences and overestimate their happiness. Sound familiar?
Our instinct is to compare ourselves to others. But on social media sites like Facebook, we’re comparing ourselves with how those people are choosing to portray their lives. You do it too. Facebook allows us to self-promote, Jenn Berman, PhD. said in a Cosmopolitan article.
“You never see their desperate moments, so you assume they don’t have any, and you feel isolated and wonder why your life can’t be as easy and wonderful as theirs is.”
I’m sure you can think of an example. No? Log on to Facebook, scroll through your news feed and I guarantee you’ll find one. A girl you knew in high school posts a photo of her brand new convertible. Your older friend wrote a status about her fabulous promotion. A classmate shares a link to her internship, the internship you applied for and didn’t get. And it’s not a coincidence if your examples are all women. A study at the University of Texas reported that women use Facebook to share personal events while men are more likely to share links or current events.
I know I’ve done it. I untag photos of my self that I don’t like, I share links to my blog or published articles I’ve written or post a status about a recent accomplishment. Am I looking for praise? Not always. But it’s easy to make your life look “easy and wonderful” when you are the one deciding what to share and what not to share.
So what’s the solution? Is there a solution? We can’t stop others from sharing their good news, and good luck stopping yourself from logging on. Perhaps all we can do is try to remind ourselves that each one of our Facebook friends has bad days too (yes, even the girl with the new convertible).
Have you ever noticed yourself feeling bummed after spending time checking other people out on Facebook? Are you a self-promoter? What do you think about Facebook depression?