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Do You Suffer From The Phenomenon Of Facebook Depression?

Do You Suffer From The Phenomenon Of Facebook Depression?

It might seem at first glance that, given the advance in communication technology, you would be happier in the modern world – even if you were a bit socially awkward and spent a lot of time by yourself at home, you could still reach out to a huge number of people. Friends, family and even strangers who share your interests are never far away when you have the convenience afforded by a social network such as Facebook.

Why do some people still feel unloved, sad, lonely or depressed, when they have such a seemingly useful tool at their disposal? More importantly, are you one of those people whose mood is significantly worsened as a direct result of Facebook?

There are definitely a number of tell-tale signs that a certain activity may be affecting your mood to a significant degree, and using Facebook can be bringing you down or at least making things worse when you are already feeling blue. I will provide you with objective information on the matter, citing studies and scientific opinion, as well as give a more personal account based on what I and others around me have experienced ourselves.

Is Facebook depression even a real thing?

It’s important to understand that the mere act of posting something on your wall or commenting on your friends’ pictures will not instantly make you depressed, nor will you necessarily develop an addiction to Facebook even if you use it on a regular basis. The whole hype about the Facebook depression phenomenon was based on a study done by Joanne Davila, PhD on depression in adolescent girls, which was linked to anxiety related to romantic experiences. Facebook or social media in general, was never the focus of the study and the connection between social media and potential worsening of symptoms were pure speculation, as Dr. Davila herself has clarified.

However, although there is no scientific proof of a direct correlation between social media and depression in healthy individuals, we can safely say Facebook does have a potential to negatively impact self-esteem, mental-health and emotional well-being as some newer studies suggest. Here are some common issues associated with regular Facebook use – if you have come across one or more of these in your own life, you might be suffering from Facebook depression.

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You don’t get support you need through online interaction

Coach Consoling Dejected Football Player

    We often feel stressed out or tired, it’s only natural. When it comes to feeling anxious and depressed, there can be a number of different factors involved: problems at work, self-image issues, fatigue, relationship problems, arguments with friends and family, low self-esteem, etc. The old cliché of “just talk to someone about it” actually works, particularly if you have friends or family members you are close with and whose opinions you trust. There are indications that sharing your problems online doesn’t work in the same way that confiding in a group of friends in person does. When it comes to opening up on Facebook there are several drawbacks:

    • You risk exposing yourself to ridicule and hurtful comments if you post on your wall
    • You have limited space to express yourself
    • Sarcasm is often impossible to identify in written form
    • You are reminded of how happy other people are by being bombarded with party pictures, internet memes and positive statuses

    Knowing that the same people that posted a supportive comment on your status are commenting on pictures from last night’s party and posting pictures of their dog on their wall at the same time, kind of undermines their attempts to ensure that they know how you feel and that they are there for you. On the other hand one of the many “friends” you have may be tempted to leave a funny comment about first world problems and others straight up criticize you for “moping” or “trying to be a philosopher” and cluttering up their wall with silly status updates.

    Needless to say, this isn’t good for your self-confidence and emotional health. If you feel the need to be comforted and end up looking for support online, there is a good chance that you may be left feeling worse than before. In such cases it’s best to leave the computer and get a cup of coffee with someone you trust, write down your feelings on a piece of paper or let off steam through exercise.

    It’s easy to envy other people and fear you are missing out in life

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    Envying others

      Sometimes, when I came home from work on Friday I was too tired to go anywhere with friends, other times I just couldn’t organize a fun night out because all my friends were busy and ended up spending a good part of the weekend at home by myself. I didn’t feel depressed or anything, I just found other things that brought me joy – e.g. video games, movies, YouTube videos, hitting the gym, reading books and checking Facebook. As soon as I logged on I was drowning in pictures of excited people drinking, laughing, making fools of themselves or chilling on a beach.

      Feelings of disappointment and envy would wash over me as I realized these people were all having fun with others while I was alone. Some of them were splashing around in the water somewhere far away, while I hardly managed to make a few trips to the pool the entire summer. I went from feeling slightly bored, yet fairly satisfied, to feeling alone and mad at those that dared to have fun.

      A recent study suggests that passively following people on Facebook can cause increased feelings of envy and make you unsatisfied with your own life, something some of my friends and I were already too familiar with. It seems that in such situations it may be best to avoid social networks altogether and find constructive ways of channeling your energy and having fun. Dancing, yoga, martial arts, cooking and similar classes are a great way to develop new friendships, have fun and develop useful skills.

      It can promote jealousy in romantic relationships

      Jealous boyfriend
         

        Facebook allows you access to a lot of private information about a person. There are privacy settings, of course, but healthy relationships are built on trust, so you allow your partner to look through your profile. Some give partners full access to Facebook accounts. It’s easy for you to start feeling jealous after seeing pictures of your significant other partying with people you don’t know anything about. Another thing you quickly realize is people go through a lot of relationships in life, and if they were in a more serious relationship this means tons of pictures of them and their exes having fun and kissing.

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        Some can’t handle what essentially equates to socially acceptable voyeurism very well. One study suggests this can create a vicious cycle in which seeing pictures of your partner can be misconstrued leads to additional digging around Facebook, which leads to other discoveries and so on. If you already have a tendency to get a bit too jealous for no real reason, then Facebook stalking can make things worse and have a negative impact on your relationship. To avoid this, try and be frank with your partner – cultivate a healthy relationship based on effective communication and trust, and understand everyone has a past. We all have a few skeletons in our closet that we may not be ready to talk about.

        You can start basing your self-worth on the number of friends, interactions and likes

        Like me on Facebook

          I’ve had friends become noticeably irritated because they had no notifications after being away from the computer for a whole day. You can start viewing yourself as the sum of all your friends, believing social status depends on the number of comments, likes and other interactions between you and your virtual friends. It was found that people who consumed a greater level of content without engaging in direct communication tended to be much lonelier. Focusing on trivial things like putting up content, liking and commenting instead of communicating with others can make you feel distanced from society.

          You are open to cyber bullying

          Cyber bully

            I’ve already mentioned sarcastic and rude comments as a negative part of opening yourself up to a huge number of people, only a few of which are actually close to you, but sometimes things escalate far past the point of someone being rude or inconsiderate. Cyber bullying is extremely dangerous for a number of reasons:

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            • It takes almost no effort on the part of the bully
            • You can be targeted by people who are hundreds of miles away
            • You can’t escape it by staying at home
            • The attacks hit you when you are at your most vulnerable

            Imagine you are sitting alone in your room at night. As the nagging voice of self-doubt starts creeping in, you log onto Facebook in an effort to keep your thoughts from wearing of into some of the darker corners of your mind. However, instead of whimsical pictures of cats, pop culture references and friends you can chat with, what you find is a borderline sociopath actively pursuing you, attacking you – purposefully trying to inflict great emotional harm. These cases can end very badly, so if you are experiencing cyber bullying you should take steps to end it.

            Unfriending a person can be enough in minor cases, but you might need to report abusive behavior to Facebook and have the person’s account shut down. If he or she continues the bullying from fake accounts or the bullying becomes worse, then deleting your account and contacting the authorities is the recommended course of action. By distancing yourself from social media for a while you can avoid a lot of unpleasant situations, however if the confrontation spills out into the real world then you should speak to the police and a lawyer.

            Final thoughts

            The media likes to blow up certain things to comic proportions and often misrepresents real problems by approaching a topic with the subtlety and levelheadedness of a hungry pit-bull trying to get to a piece of stake left out on the kitchen counter. However, there seems to be something to this Facebook depression phenomenon, as shown by the numerous studies, although I wouldn’t go so far as to put the blame solely on Facebook, as there are often a whole lot of social and psychological factors at play.

            If you are one of the millions of casual Facebook users whose mood isn’t significantly affected by online social life then good for you, but if you see any of the signs that social media may be causing you to feel lonely, sad, depressed, angry, jealous, envious or anxious, then you should consider giving Facebook a break and working on some of the underlying problems, even if that means seeking professional help.

            More by this author

            Ivan Dimitrijevic

            Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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            Published on May 18, 2021

            How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

            How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

            We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

            The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

            Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

            Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

            Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

            There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

            Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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            Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

            We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

            Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

            A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

            The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

            Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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            Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

            Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

            Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

            While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

            Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

            These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

            Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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            Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

            Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

            Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

            Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

            Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

            Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

            As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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            This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

            Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

            Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

            These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

            Actions Speak Louder Than Words

            Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

            Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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            Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

            More Tips Improving Listening Skills

            Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

            Reference

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