Facebook Use Leads to Depression – Misleading Headline of the Day

5269295051_31a102e6ae_m_facebookYes really, that was the headline of this article.

Really gets your attention doesn’t it?

Except, if you actually read the article, that’s not exactly what the research says…

“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives.

“However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship – things that cause envy among users – use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”

So, it’s not using Facebook that leads to depression as much as it is using Facebook to constantly compare your own life to the lives other people choose to share on the social network? Since the research only looked at people using Facebook, the lede seems to be about Facebook, but really wouldn’t the same be true of any place where people gather? It’s the act of constantly comparing yourself to other people that leads to depression, Facebook is just the latest method for doing that. I suppose before social media the headline might have said something about watching movies or reading books leads to depression, for those who constantly compare their own lives to fictional characters.

What can we learn from this research?

  • Go ahead and use Facebook to keep in touch
  • Understand that most people only post to Facebook when they’re doing something fun and exciting
  • Quit comparing your day to day life to what people share on Facebook

And if you really want to nip this in the bud for folks, admit when your life is kind of boring and crummy so anyone comparing themselves to you can feel better about themselves, or don’t, because you’ll bore the heck out of everyone else.

Personally, I know that when I’m dealing with a bad day, posting to social media is about the last thing I want to do. So yeah, I may look like I’m having a great time if you look straight through my timeline, but if you actually look at the dates, you might recognize that there are days in between when I’m not doing much worth sharing. Most people are like this. We don’t share our bad days unless there’s some therapeutic place for us to do it, like my child abuse blog. Facebook doesn’t really fall into that category.

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