Can Facebook Cause Depression

I know of a man who gets into a rage when he goes on Facebook. He screams, shouts, hits himself then curls into a ball and starts crying, lamenting that he’s failed himself and his family. He whimpers that his life is worthless and all his friends are doing well, everyone, except him. This man suffers from mental illness but studies have shown that many of us do get depressed after going on Facebook. We experience similar feelings to this man – depression, envy and a fear of missing out. The Internet is full of articles on this subject and quite a few studies have been shown that this indeed is the case. Why are we so upset when we are online using Facebook?

We’re comparing ourselves to others, feeling happier when we seem to be doing better than others, and adversely, feeling like crap when everyone else is vacationing, buying big houses, finding love and having beautiful babies. The fear of missing out is that everyone else is living the coveted life we want. Some of the articles I’ve read said perhaps we should not be online, at least not so much. I have a better solution.

Change your perception. Realize that most people put their best selves on Facebook. I’m certainly not going to put my regular face on Facebook which my daughter describes as perpetually frowning. One of my kids thought that I was unhappy with my life until my sister set us all straight and diagnosed me as having RBF. This condition is not serious and is otherwise known as Resting Bitch Face. I’m not actually a bitch. I simply look miserable, cranky and generally unhappy in repose.

When I put pictures of my cute kids (well, I think they’re cute), I won’t post that I abhor making school lunches which I discovered in 1999 when my eldest daughter was three and starting preschool. I thought this abhorrence would lessen in time, but no. Twenty years later, I can’t stand the thought of packing another lunch box.

No names will be published to protect the innocent or not so innocent, but one of my children is skillful at backchat, otherwise known as being rude and disrespectful to her elders – ME. Another is stubborn and will never admit that at her tender age of not yet twenty, she’s never wrong. And I won’t post who peed my bed (My fault. I’ve had babies in my bed since 1996 and haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since), whose sulks can turn a sunny day into a rain storm and who has me wondering if I should invest in a lie detector. So when you see my  kids posted, know that half the time I’m pulling out my hair.

As for all your vacation photos, I don’t fear I’m missing out. I know I’m missing out. My advice? If you’re envious of those vacation photos, channel that energy into saving for your trip. With university and a commitment to baseball, I probably won’t be in a gondola with my hubby any time soon. But hey, I’m happy for you. If you get to Spain, have a glass of wine and some tapas; think of me and say a silent prayer that I get there one day.  

I have a good friend who posts gym pictures. When I see those pictures, I go through a range of emotions from guilt (when was the last time I saw the inside of a gym?), horror (the last time I looked like that was 2002) and despair (will I ever have the time for myself to get in shape?). But the pics are inspiring. If this is what I really want, then I need to get my butt in a gym. Her photos have motivated me to get back in shape.

Your prizes, accolades, nominations, awards, and published books, post away. We’re all in this life together. Most of the time it’s hard. A lot of the time is spent slogging away, working, cleaning up, trying to keep it together. A prize makes you smile, makes you feel like your hard work is worth it. Someone told me jealousy and ill will brings more of the same. Your negativity will give you less, not more. Hit the like button and say, “You go, girl/guy. Keep at it.”

Your reward is coming.

So when you see my posts and I’m all dressed up smiling like life is a peach, know that the morning after, I’m groaning as I get up to go to work, bleary eyed with RBF, to head into the kitchen to make those darned school lunches.

8 replies
  1. Nicki Riettie
    Nicki Riettie says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!! A couple years ago, I met up with a friend/business alliance I hadn’t seen for a while for coffee. As we chatted, she shared that she saw my posts on Facebook and thought, “Wow, this girl has it all together. I would love to be more like her.” I almost fell out of my chair, laughing. Because, yes, on Facebook, I post the highlight reel of my life. The good stuff, the fun stuff. The stuff I do well. I don’t share the scary person who hates mornings and wakes up every morning grumpy and makes breakfast with a demand for silence – “No coffee? No talkee” is my rule. LOL. I don’t share the person who struggles with time management and is perpetually late for everything, or the person who isn’t good at answering the phone and listening to my friends when they call. I don’t share the person who struggles with guilt about the millions of things I fall short in – so, having it all together? That’s hilarious. (My hubby agrees that the notion of my having it all together is hilarious, by the way LOL).

    But I definitely look at the people on Facebook who seem successful in all the ways I think I am not – and feel, well, less… I agree with you and it is one of my goals this year – to be more confident in who I am and to love myself more for who I am and the things I do well than to beat myself up for the things I struggle with. I just read that it would be better to focus on our strengths and on developing them than to focus so much on the things we struggle with and on perfecting them to mediocrity.

    So – I am off to celebrate my strengths – I will still struggle to improve my time management, among other things – but I will celebrate the things I do well and at the same time, be inspired by, congratulate and encourage others as they rock the things they are great at! I think that’s a winning proposition and a recipe for a great life… 🙂 And so, in keeping with that – I celebrate you, because this is an amazing post!!!!

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      Nics, thanks so much for that lovely reply. Your support means the world to me. Didn’t know you hate mornings too.

  2. Leeanne
    Leeanne says:

    True talk PG! No envy on my part as I stopped checking fb years ago…………maybe one day I will go back on fb, but right now it’s just another thing I cannot fit into my already swamped days. Having said this, seldom do people post all the bad and sad times. So know they too have to clean, head to jobs they probably hate and they also have to make dreaded school lunches too :o) They just choose not to post those pics!

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      Except for those exceptional lunch making moms like yourself. Don’t know how you do it.

  3. Rajpreet
    Rajpreet says:

    So true, Peta-Gaye. So well-written! We gotta step out of the comparison trap because what we are comparing ourselves to is someone’s best, edited version of themselves. Facebook is good for keeping in touch but there’s a fine line between it’s benefits and it’s disadvantages!

    • Peta-Gaye Nash
      Peta-Gaye Nash says:

      So true. It’s always our best selves. I love that phrase “best, edited version of themselves.” You’re a writer for sure.

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