Do you often find yourself feeling left out and sad when you scroll down your Facebook news feed, and you see nice pictures of your friends? Do you feel a little down or self-conscious when you read posts about their interesting lives? Does that make you question yourself or feel unworthy? If yes, Facebook is adversely affecting your mood and mental health and can induce depression.
The major aim of social media platforms, such as Facebook, is to encourage engagement and interaction among people, especially those who are far away from each other. Facebook claims that active interaction with people by sharing messages, posting, commenting, or reminiscing past activities is linked to improvements in well-being, but instead Facebook and other social media sites can damage the emotional well-being of its users, particularly young people.
How Facebook can cause depression is a complicated and complex thing to understand. To know how Facebook is affecting you, consider a situation where you are alone at home at the weekend. With nothing much to do, you go online on Facebook and see your timeline brimming with posts from your friends about their weekend plans, activities, or whereabouts. Now, ask yourself. How do you feel about it all? Are you happy that one of your friends just got a new car? Would you congratulate him on it, or would you be saddened by the fact that you do not own one?
You might not consciously know it, but social media has significant effects on your mental and emotional well-being. Facebook, being the most popular social networking site, is leading the pack.
Here are some of the ways you may not know how Facebook is making you depressed.
- 1. Facebook makes you hide behind a mask
- 2. Facebook leads you to negative self-comparison
- 3. Facebook can make you feel isolated
- 4. Facebook can make you develop trust issues
- 5. Facebook can make you feel jealous
- 6. Facebook can make you insensitive
- 7. Facebook can make you susceptible to exploitation and unhealthy sexual practices
- 8. Facebook can take over your mind and even your life
- 9. Facebook can make you believe in what is not true
- 10. Facebook can reveal a lot more than you want to
1. Facebook makes you hide behind a mask
People share most of their personal information and experiences on Facebook, but you cannot fully trust every one of them. People nowadays do not show their true selves and hide behind a mask. It is so easy to curate or alter a picture and post it on Facebook. You can be sitting at home, in the comfort of your bed, but still can check in to one of the posh places in town just to show people how exciting your life is.
2. Facebook leads you to negative self-comparison
You feel bad when one of your friends gets admission into the university that you badly wanted to attend to, but failed to qualify. Someone showing off an expensive watch makes you look at yours. If instances like these can make you question your own capabilities, you’ll keep comparing your life with that of other people.
It can also make you compare your photos to others and create unrealistic expectations. People do not look pretty all the time in real life, yet they do on Facebook. Seeing pictures of your friends looking pretty, sexy, and all dolled up, can make you feel bad about yourself and criticize your looks. Remember, those photos and posts are edited and curated to give off the best appearance of someone and their life.
3. Facebook can make you feel isolated
Being available on Facebook all the time kills your time and prevents you from getting out of your house and socializing in person. If you are shy and choose only Facebook as your platform to share your thoughts, you are not practicing your socialization skills. In the long run, you’ll end up feeling isolated because you don’t have anyone to hang out with.
Moreover, if you just settle for scrolling Facebook and looking at your friends’ pictures attending a party or visiting places instead of going out with them, you miss out on all the actual fun of having real friends. Soon enough you may lose them because of your constant absence. When you don’t have friends, you tend to find fault in yourself.
4. Facebook can make you develop trust issues
One of the reasons that people create fake profiles is to harass someone. If you get a friend request from a person with a profile picture of an actor or actress, you always wonder why they are not showing their true image. You might accept the friend request and interact with that person to cure your boredom, but you never believe who they say they are right away. Then you find yourself unable to trust people fully because of all the unreal stuff you encounter on social media. Knowing when to let your guard down and when to raise it, now becomes an issue.
5. Facebook can make you feel jealous
You cannot have what your friends have and vice versa. People constantly upload photos and videos of their new bike, car, watch, and even dog. Everyone shows off everything. At some point, jealousy can seep through and make you miserable.
6. Facebook can make you insensitive
Since you are not interacting with a person face to face, you have the freedom to say whatever you have in your mind. It is so easy to bully someone or say inappropriate things by sending them messages or commenting on their posts. The pressure of being above everyone else can make you want to bash someone you don’t like, or you react to the drama by ignoring what is happening. This makes you insensitive.
7. Facebook can make you susceptible to exploitation and unhealthy sexual practices
People tend to do unhealthy sexual practices on Facebook. Any sexual interaction happening on Facebook is not a healthy one because you are not meeting each other physically. You miss out on getting to know the other person on a deeper level. You might be doing it only for fun and just playing along, but the other person might be a pervert and exploit you when you become susceptible. Blackmail and other heinous crimes can be committed which started from a seemingly harmless act of fooling around online.
8. Facebook can take over your mind and even your life
There is a trend of people posting a picture or video doing something, and they tag another person to challenge them forgetting that it might not be for everybody. A friend can challenge you to weightlift 65 pounds. Without giving it much thought, you say yes to it for bragging rights and end up hurting yourself.
9. Facebook can make you believe in what is not true
Rumors spread quickly on Facebook. The more likes and comments, the more the story becomes believable. This can make you close your eyes to the truth and believe in what is popular but untrue. Someone can easily post an inappropriate picture to bully or shame someone who is otherwise a decent person. Whoever sees that post can readily believe it without fully knowing the person concerned.
10. Facebook can reveal a lot more than you want to
Sharing your personal information with someone on Facebook can bring you trouble. Anyone can make a fake profile using your name, picture, and personal information and do malicious things online.
Any of these situations can act as a trigger to depression by making you doubt yourself and making you feel insufficient and incapable. The fear of being left out can induce insecurities and make one feel isolated. Constant comparison of one’s life with the distorted view of others’ life can make one question their existence. In order to abide by the social norm of being our perfect self, we are all hiding behind a mask and showing off our fake perfect selves, thus all making each other feel unworthy, inadequate, and depressed.
Let us stop the cycle by being true to ourselves whether in person or online.