Social Media & Depression

media-social-media-apps-social-network-facebook.jpgI’ve gotten a few texts and messages from people wondering if I “unfriended” them on Facebook. To all my friends: I don’t hate you. I didn’t unfriend you. I did the unthinkable. I deleted my Facebook.

I guess technically I deactivated my Facebook. I could rejoin the social media site if I wanted to. But after months off the website, I don’t want to go back.

Social media is such a powerful medium. I use it to find out what’s going on in the world, and now to share my story with everyone here at Food, the City and the Girl. I think it’s important, and I think it’s a great vessel for self expression. That being said, I think that’s only true if you truly express yourself.

Too much of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else people are using these days,  are about showing an idealized version of yourself. A version that doesn’t exist for anyone. It’s great to post pictures of your friends or talk about how much you love your job or your significant other, but a lot of times that’s not the entire story. And honestly that’s ok, because you don’t need to share every problem in your life with that guy you knew in third grade and haven’t talked to since.

But staring at the over idealized versions of ourselves every day can cause problems. Especially for people suffering from depression. It can make you feel very alone. Like you’re the only person struggling when really we all have our own problems.

It also can cause problems if you have an eating disorder. Staring at pictures every day of girls in bikinis and six-pack abs doesn’t exactly boost your confidence.

So how can you make it better?

Take a break from social media for awhile. I’m not telling anyone to completely quit every social media account they have. Clearly I still depend on social media very much. But find the site or sites that are making you feel bad and just try and step away. For me it was Facebook. I took a step back. I still actively use Twitter (@karawarr) and Instagram (@kara_warr). For me, twitter is more about following current events. I used it a lot when I was working in local news, and that’s still the majority of accounts I follow. I don’t follow a lot of people on Instagram and I like that. For me Instagram isn’t overly politicized. People don’t bitch about every single thing. It’s mostly just cute pictures of puppies and the vacations my friends go on. Instagram actually makes me feel better when I look at it.

When you feel like you’re in a better place, try rejoining the social media site. That was my plan originally, but I found I’m much happier without Facebook. Maybe some day I’ll go back, but it won’t be anytime soon. By then there will probably be a completely different website.

But how do I keep in touch with friends?

I was worried about this at first as well. I have some friends who notoriously lose their cell phones and get new numbers all the time. It’s hard to keep in touch and social media actually makes that so much easier. I’ll say I was actually surprised that I DIDN’T have any issues keeping in touch. Those people I worried about losing touch with had MY NUMBER. Or they had my email or followed one of my other social media accounts. Those people who are important in your life will stay in your life. Before you disconnect, you can always shoot a few people a message, if you’re really worried about losing touch.

It also doesn’t have to be forever. Go back to it whenever you want! Like I said, I love social media. I think it’s important, but when you’re in a bad place, it can be helpful to take a break. And if you’re not ready to disconnect, just remember no one’s life is perfect… even if it seems that way on Facebook.

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