According to a news report released today by Fox 5 News network, 80 minutes of Facebook per day, is enough to cause depression and anxiety disorders in both children and adults. Could this aimless scrolling where you get sneak peak snap shots of ‘friends’ lives be the root cause of the record number of folks being diagnosed with depression like illnesses and anxiety disorders?
According to researchers, the answer is yes. And while many people blame Facebook and Instagram for a malady of teenage issues, adults are just as susceptible. Records indicate that the average Facebook user spends a minimum of 85 minutes on Facebook per day. 85 minutes. That’s over an hour per day with your head held down low, scrolling the news feed of people you may know (and some you only know in passing) where you are completely involved in the lives of other people.
And of course, everyone else’s life on Facebook is much more interesting that yours. But is this a reality?
The truth is that most of what people post on Facebook and other social media sites are just snapshots of the HIGHLIGHTS of their lives. They post pictures of their vacations, and their beautiful kids, and their accomplishments and plans. Everyone seems to be smiling and happy. Some people post ridiculous lead in comments that give insight into some drama that they may be experiencing. More folks post pictures of the new baby, the new boat, the new house. What is easy to forget is that all of these pictures and comments and posts are really on the highlights of a person’s life. What they don’t show on Facebook is how they had to get a second mortgage on their house in order to afford the new boat. They don’t post vacation pictures that show the kids whining incessantly before going on the air-boat ride, or feature video of the actual car- ride to the destination where the kids were acting like spoiled brats. You won’t see a proud parent posting a report card where the kid barely passed their class. Yet they will post how well their child did at a recent sporting event.
What happens as you scroll, is you get subconsciously sucked into the drama of other people’s life, and also fall prey to the ‘woe is me’ syndrome that results from thinking everyone else’s life is better than yours. Suddenly, you are driving down the road thinking about so and so’s vacation, or your neighbors new job, or the woman you have seen before but don’t really know who looks great in a bikini while you are battling muffin top. And sadly, this means that your average 80 minutes on Facebook per day, not only robs you of doing productive things in your OWN life, but also bleeds into the rest of your day.
Is what other people are doing SO important? In the larger scope of life, do the going ons of those around you REALLY matter, or affect your life in a positive way, or at all? While it may be nice to stay in touch with real friends and family with social media, there has to be some self-imposed limits in order to ensure it doesn’t negatively affect your life. And at some point while you are waiting in line for your Subway sandwich perusing Facebook to pass the time, or scrolling the news feed while you are at a red-light in traffic you have to ask yourself a very important question. Do you REALLY care? Or are you just being nosy? And how has all this so-called insight into the lives of others helped you? While you may not readily admit it, researchers say it causes jealousy and resentment. Today, we have wives divorcing their husbands because they try to measure their relationships by what they see happening in the relationships of others on social media. We have teenagers lashing out, and elementary school kids waning on the exotic vacations of their classmates over spring break.
What has happened is that people, who we know are nosy and curious enough to open the medicine cabinet in a friends home just to see what is inside, have taken their curiosity and nosiness to a new level. And since we can scroll in private with no one else knowing, we feel safe and secure creeping on other people. In some cases, stalking other people online, some of whom we have never had a face-to-face conversation with. We post pictures of our own, or comments and sit back and wait hoping to get ‘likes’ or comments so we can feel validated.
And these other people, who in the very large scope of your life – make no difference to you. They can neither validate nor invalidate you. They do not make you happy or unhappy. Unless of course you allow them to.
From the vantage point of social media, it seems that everyone else is living the dream – while you are stuck on the sidelines simply watching the world around excel and succeed, while your life seems stuck in neutral. And this is the problem. As human beings, we become whatever it is that our focus is on. And instead of spending 85 minutes working on our own lives, we are investing in the lives of other people. Instead of brainstorming a new idea while waiting in line, or even just learning to relax – we are constantly filling our brain and senses with stimulant from other people’s lives. And in most cases, this makes us feel bad about our own lives and ourselves.
For teens, who are already self victimized by feeling less than their peers and who seem to naturally gravitate to feelings of insecurity socially, Facebook and Instagram, can become all encompassing media channels that can cause long term depressions, anger and anxiety disorders.
The trick in all things in life is balance and self-discipline. Before you log onto Facebook during the workday or while you are waiting, or after dinner – think about things that you could be doing to help and improve YOUR own life. If you are constantly stressing that you don’t have the time to exercise, then start exercising instead of looking at pictures on Facebook of people you know that are skinny. Take back your own life, and try to monitor and restrict your time on social media sites. And even more important, is that people learn to pay attention to what they think and feel when they are on these sites. The silent dialogue going on in your head is the most important indicator to whether your time scrolling social media is helping or hindering you. Listen to it. Pay attention. And when you become overwhelmed with self-pity or self-scrutiny or feeling ‘woe is me,’ decide to take advantage of those extra 85 minutes per day to do something that will help YOU!