The Relationship Between Social Media and Depression

Spending time on social media can be a learning experience. You can use the info you derive from various social media channels to absorb a vast range of fascinating facts. You can also certainly peruse it to learn what opinions are on a wide number of trends. But for many, social media can also be a source of constantly reinforced depression.

Is Social Media a Source of Validation?

According to a recent study released by the Pew Center, a good 69% of adults use social media in the U.S. This is followed by a resounding 81% majority of teens in the country. This means that, at any given point, there are literally hundreds of millions of people using a particular social media channel. This is certainly good news for advertisers.

But is it good news for people who are seeking validation? Many people who post on social media have a habit of coming back to that post to see how many likes they have gotten. They will also tend to compare their post against others to see who has the most likes. Finally, they may also pay an inordinate amount of attention to responses to their post.

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Is this the kind of behavior that can be called normal or healthy? For many experts, the answer is mostly positive. People do have a tendency to measure themselves against their peers. They like to know how their opinions are being judged and valued. It’s natural to want to put on your best face in your posts. The reward can be instant gratification.

How Can Social Media Lead to Depression?

It should also be noted that there is a dark side to this constant search for validation via social media usage. The response that your post may get is not really predictable, even at the best of times. There is no telling when a “troll” may appear to mock you. There is, likewise, no telling that your post won’t get lost in the shuffle and ignored.

Many people seem to thrive on the unpredictable nature of social media posting. They take it in stride as part of the ultimate uncertainty that the medium implies. However, some people do seem to take rejection or ridicule in a less sanguine fashion. This doesn’t mean that they are able to simply move on. Many continue to post even when it hurts to.

Part of this repetition may perhaps be due to the fact that people are searching for validation in a place that is more likely to give it to them. This may be because they don’t feel they can get it anywhere else. If their posts are disliked or ignored, they may end up in despair. They may feel that even this one reliable place has failed them.

Can Social Media Be a Source of Anxiety?

The continued reliance on social media can be a source of extreme anxiety for many people. This has to do with the repeated search for gratification via their accumulated number of likes, comments, and shares.

The constant comparison to others that addiction to social media can reveal may be unsettling for some. It seems like being trapped in a constant cycle of gratification and disappointment with only a state of ennui in between.

This is one of the reasons why more experts are recommending that people take extended breaks from the constant use of social media. They also recommend that social media site runners make certain changes. These are alterations designed to reduce the dependency of commentators on the number of likes they get.