Social media of all forms has its place. From email to next gen systems like WeChat, there is a place in our information-needy world for social media. However, Facebook-induced Depression is a real thing and we should all recognize its risks.
What is Facebook-induced Depression? Well, researchers have begun to see that there are three ways Facebook induces Depression: 1) Through isolation; 2) through negative internal feedback and envy; and, 3) through negative messages.
What we’ve learned through “process addictions;” that is, behaviors such us compulsive gambling, eating, and/or shopping, is that the same anxiety, compulsive relief cycle is present just as with substance addictions. I would add Facebook usage to the list of process addictions. When people spend too much time on Facebook, they do so at the expense of real-life. They tend to both become isolated and isolate others. Isolation is a typical trait of depression; it appears that over use of Facebook opens the door to future Depression due to its isolating nature.
Among the “rewards” present within Facebook addiction (not sure if anyone else is using the term) is “like” and “comments.” There is evidence to suggest that there is similar Dopamine surges when there is feedback to a Facebook post as there is when someone compulsively shops/eats, etc. But, there is also evidence to suggest that when someone does not receive the desired feedback, they become frustrated and envious of those who do. As a matter of fact, a particular study out of the University of Michigan found that not only do people become envious and frustrated by those who receive dozens of “likes” and “comments,” but they also become saddened when they compare people’s “online life” against their “real-life.” For example, teenagers are particularly susceptible to this comparing, as when they think others’ lives are better because of the pics they post or because of the feedback they receive to their posts. But, I’m beginning to hear more and more stories of people who drop into envy spirals due to the comparing of either (or both) their Facebook lives to others or their real lives against others’ Facebook lives. This envy and sadness are both gateways to real Depression.
Lastly, when people use Facebook to post hurtful or bullying comments, they’re posting strong, propagating, and permanently hurtful messages that can quickly become internalized and can flat-out cause a person to think negatively about him or her self. Couple these hurtful messages with the other Facebook gateways to Depression and I think it’s easy to see that Facebook, like anything else, should be used in moderation and not become the focal point of someone’s life.
I don’t hate Facebook; but I think its use should be studied more as a way to understand that it can be both a way to avoid reality, or worse, a tool that will induce clinical Depression. Especially if someone already exhibits compulsive tendencies: Using Facebook too much is a real risk for real life problems. If you don’t believe me, Google “Is Facebook-induced Depression real?” and see for yourself.