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What I Feel When Everyone Asks Me To Smile

What I Feel When Everyone Asks Me To Smile

During the exam period, anyone can find me studying at Starbucks from the time they open till they close. And every day when someone I know passes me, they’ll say “Marina, you should stop studying and smile once in awhile. Maybe then more guys will ask you out”. I don’t think anyone has any idea of how annoying that is – that I have to smile every day when men pass by me. It’s 2015- how can this still be going on? But alas, there are people who think if we smile at them just to be nice we are inviting them in for a sexual act.

According to Muhammad Rizalman Ibrahim, a former defence attaché, he claims that “it was a Malaysian custom that women who smile are inviting men to follow them”.

Umm no, it’s not. I doubt that is any country’s custom. Honestly, the thought of that is frightening. People would have to think twice to smile at strangers.

I know people say, us young adults, we are the revolution, and we’re going to bring the change the world needs, but there are people among us who still have these primitive mindsets. I went out dancing one night with some friends, and I happened to smile at a guy, he flirted and danced with me, but I showed signs that I was not interested in anything other than to dance. With a scrunched up face and a hint of anger, he departed my company to swoop down on some other smile.

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To be quite frank, I was fine with that. I just wanted to have fun with my friends that night. However, the next day over brunch I told one of my friends what had happened, and he said, “Well you smiled at him, so he obviously thought you wanted to have sex with him. You brought this on yourself”. Umm, when did smiling become an invitation for sex?

I’m not just singling out females here; I’m talking about everyone, boys and girls, who just naturally have an emotionless face. People think that if someone doesn’t smile, they’re mean, and they hate you. I’ve gotten that comment far too often. “I thought you didn’t like me the first time I met you because you didn’t want to smile at me”. It’s not that I didn’t want to smile at you, that’s just how my face is. I am honestly a very happy person, and I’ve seen other very happy people who go through this exact situation. We just have an emotionless face, but trust me we are friendly people!

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Besides, smiling is not the way to appear friendly to someone. You could hold a door open for someone (and swallow it down when they don’t say thank you), wish him or her a good morning, or even when you first meet someone, you shake his or her hand. The point is that there are so many things in this world that we can do to appear friendly and polite to strangers, and it’s preposterous to think that smiling is the only way to do so.

People nowadays have this notion that smiling is the only way to appear friendly or worse, happy. Whenever I don’t smile, people assume I am upset or sick. It’s honestly frustrating when you constantly ask people to smile. Asking someone to smile would now appear negative rather than the positive that smiles stand for.

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From all this, I can say that it’s quite frightening and annoying what people think about smiles. People with an emotionless face do exist, and it’s not a compliment to ask us to smile just for your pleasure or for anyone else’s for that matter. And it’s not the only way to be polite. But no matter what, people will constantly tell us to smile for others. It’s like we’re being set up. If we smile it’s bad, and if we don’t it’s bad too.

Featured photo credit: Maxal Tamor via shutterstock.com

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NOORMARINA ANWAR

Student, Monash University

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Last Updated on June 24, 2019

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

Why Social Media Might Be Causing Depression

A study [1] published in Depression and Anxiety found that social media users are more likely to be depressed. This was just one of the huge number of studies linking social media and depression[2] . But why exactly do platforms like Facebook and Instagram make people so unhappy? Well, we don’t know yet for sure, but there are some explanations.

Social Media Could Lead to Depression

Depression is a serious medical condition that affects how you think, feel, and behave. Social media may lead to depression in predisposed individuals or make existing symptoms of depression[3] worse explains[4] the study above’s senior author Dr. Brian Primack. So, the problem may not be in social media per se, but how we use it.

Signs You’re Suffering From “Social Media Depression”

If you feel like social media is having a negative impact on your mood, then you may be suffering from “social media depression.” Look for symptoms like:

• low self-esteem,

• negative self-talk,

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• a low mood,

• irritability,

• a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed,

• and social withdrawal.

If you’ve had these symptoms for more than two weeks and if this is how you feel most of the time, then you are likely depressed. Although “social media depression “is not a term recognized in the medical setting, social media depression seems to be a real phenomenon affecting around 50% of social media users. As explained in a review study[5] published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, if a person has a certain predisposition to depression and other mental disorders, social media use may only worsen their mental health.

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Social Media Could Crush Self-Esteem

We know that social media and depression are in some way linked, but why is this so? Well, according to Igor Pantic, MD, Ph.D.[6], social media use skews your perception about other people’s lives and traits. To explain this further, most people like to portray an idealized image of their lives, personal traits, and appearance on sites like Facebook and Instagram. If you confuse this idealized image with reality, you may be under the false impression that everyone is better than you which can crush your self-esteem and lead to depression. This is especially true for teens and young adults who are more likely to compare themselves to others. If you already suffer from low self-esteem, the illusion that everyone has it better off than you will just make you feel worse.

Causing Social Isolation and Other Negative Emotions

Another commonly cited reason for the negative impact of social media on mental health is its link with social isolation. Depressed people are more likely to isolate themselves socially and chose only to interact indirectly through social media platforms. But communication online tends to be superficial and is lacking when compared to real-life interaction explains Panic. What this means is not that social media leads to isolation but the other way around, possibly explaining why we find so many depressed persons on these sites.

Lastly, social media use may generate negative emotions in you like envy, jealousy, dislike, loneliness, and many others and this may worsen your depressive symptoms.

Why We Need to Take This Seriously

Both depression and social media use are on the rise according to epidemiological studies. Since each one has an impact on the other, we have to start thinking of healthier ways to use social media. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to the negative impact of social media on mental health.

Advice on Social Media Use

Although these findings did not provide any cause-effect explanation regarding Facebook and depression[7], they still do prove that social media use may not be a good way to handle depression. For this reason, the leading authors of these studies gave some suggestions as to how clinicians and people can make use of such findings.

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One suggestion is that clinicians should ask patients about their social media habits. Then they can advise them on how to change their outlook on social media use or even suggest limiting their time spent on social media.

Some social media users may also exhibit addictive behavior; they may spend too much time due to compulsive urges. Any compulsive behavior is bound to lead to feelings of guilt which can worsen depressive symptoms.

Having Unhealthy Relationship with Social Media

If you feel like your relationship with social media is unhealthy, then consider the advice on healthy social media use provided by psychology experts from Links Psychology[8]:

Avoid negative social comparison – always keep in mind that how people portray themselves and their lives on social media is not a realistic picture, but rather an idealized one. Also, avoid comparing yourself to others because this behavior can lead to negative self-talk.

Remember that social media is not a replacement for real life – Social media is great for staying in touch and having fun, but it should never replace real-world interactions.

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Avoid releasing personal information – For your safety and privacy, make sure to be careful with what you post online.

Report users who bully and harass you – It’s easy to be a bully in the anonymous and distant world of social media. Don’t take such offense personally and report those who abuse social media to harass others.

The bits of advice listed above can help you establish a healthy relationship with social media. Always keep these things in mind to avoid losing an objective perspective of what social media is and how it is different from real life. If you are currently suffering from depression, talk to your doctor about what is bothering you so that you can get the treatment you need to get better. Tell your doctor about your social media use and see if they could give you some advice on this topic.

Reference

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