Why is our generation constantly being ruined by the experience of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)? Is social media making us depressed?
Everyone gets insecure once in a while, but with the advent of social media which comes with the need to be as happening as others, we have become more susceptible to sadness and depression. Facebook depression is not a diagnosis per se but its effects are being felt by almost everyone.
The level of depression may vary depending on your mindset. You may feel happy for others and your spontaneous “congratulations” comment might be genuine. However, if you are not secure about your relationships in real life and have the fear of not being liked by others, you may see the post in a less favorable light. A study in 2014 showed that most people aren’t using social media to be social. Only about 9% of Facebook users communicate with others. Most others read random content and in the end, regret the time they have lost by being unproductive.
We assume that Facebook is giving us a momentary break from work and 20 minutes of catching up with friends will boost our motivation. But what we fail to see is the vicious cycle of social networking. The effect of glorious social media is not limited to Facebook. Pinterest makes you crave for all the things you don’t have in your life. The amount of perfection desired to be on Instagram is painfully unrealistic. An exposure to carefully curated moments from others’ lives leads to a negative evaluation of our own lives. 5 minutes spent on any platform is enough to bring down your mood.
Social media forces the images of perfection down your throat. It compels you to compete with others for attention, validation, and happiness. It’s not possible to remove it entirely from our lives but the good news is that we can ensure our emotional wellbeing by just keeping an eye on our social media activity.
Here are a few tips that might help you.
1. Limit your time online. Instead of spending every second of your free time scrolling mindlessly through your feed, limit your online activity to 30 minutes per day or even lesser. It’s perfectly acceptable to check in once or twice a week to see how your friends are doing. If you check Facebook for news, switch to an exclusive news app. Remove yourself from websites that make you feel less about yourself or makes you lust after things you can’t afford right now.
2. Unfriend your former partners. Stalking our ex-flames is one of our most cherished guilty pleasures. But sometimes we have to check ourselves. If unfriending seems a bit too rude, unfollow them.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. Their success isn’t your failure. With the abundance of photography apps and a bunch of friends to capture moments for us, it is easy to look like a star on social media. Be happy for that person and move on. If it bothers you too much, make plans for yourself to reach your goal.
4. Resist the urge to vent your problems on social media. Studies show that people posting negative updates and negative comments on Facebook tend to have lower life satisfaction.
5. Understand what happiness is. Getting likes and comments on social media isn’t happiness. Remember the time when Orkut was a big deal? People having more “scraps” were considered famous. Where is it now? Realize that the social media world is a momentary escape. Everyone is struggling with something. So don’t fall for that smiling face on Facebook. The validation you get from people may make you feel better for some time but you will keep on craving for more. The cycle never ends. Instead, focus on things that bring you true joy.
6. Replace social media with something more fruitful. Connect with people in real life. We, as a generation, are on the verge of forgetting how good it feels to talk to someone over coffee. With our lives getting busier than ever, we hardly find time to talk to our friends. So this Saturday put down your phone and catch up with a friend.
7. Focus on the positive. Sometimes you need to change your own perspective. You can’t decide what others post on their page but you can decide what posts you see and how you let it affect you. Understand that Facebook isn’t all bad. It is a great way to connect with friends and relatives, discovering a long lost friend, learning something from the quick life hacks videos and staying up to date on news.
It is finally your responsibility to make sure it remains a fun way to network and not something affecting your mental health.