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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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            Last Updated on March 30, 2020

            What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

            What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

            Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

            You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

            This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

            What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

            According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

            Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

            There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

            How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

            When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

            Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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            1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

            One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

            The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

            Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

            2. Be Honest

            A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

            If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

            On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

            Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

            3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

            Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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            If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

            4. Succeed at Something

            When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

            Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

            5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

            Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

            Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

            If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

            If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

            Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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            6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

            Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

            You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

            On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

            You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

            7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

            Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

            Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

            Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

            When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

            Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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            In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

            Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

            It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

            Final Thoughts

            When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

            The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

            Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

            Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

            Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

            More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

            Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
            [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
            [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
            [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
            [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
            [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
            [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
            [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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