Conquering social media depression

Social media is meant to bring us together; to connect a world separated by distance and oceans. However, this connection has also birthed a lot of pain for some people. On seeing someone’s status or picture, one wonders why they were not invited for a certain party, another feels ugly in comparison to a slay queen, while another feels envious of another for the new dress they have just bought.

Although social media has some benefits it has left many depressed and feeling unworthy.

According to research from New York University, comparisons allow humans to form a baseline for where they are in life and where they want to be. Comparisons also allow humans to take stock of and adjust themselves against peers, friends, colleagues, and people they look up to,” the research points out.

Additionally, without the ability of comparison, humans have no way of knowing whether they have progressed at all.

Humans are said to compare upwards and downwards. That gives them a sense of how they measure up, which is valuable for self-improvement. Unfortunately, with social media, rarely do people measure down as that would make them feel good about themselves.

“It is very rare that people post about when their baby threw up on them, when their car broke down or immediately after they have been laid off. Most people post about those moments that are special to them. Additionally, most people measure upwards which leaves them bereft of self-worth because the people they are comparing themselves with seem to be better off. This is common among women and girls,” Dr Benedict Akimana, a psychologist says. These assess themselves regarding beauty, success, boyfriend and status.

While upward comparison would ideally make people work on themselves for better, Dr Akimana says sometimes, the change is not easily achievable. For instance, looking at one who is on vacation while you are working two jobs to make ends meet will leave one feeling depressed because they can barely afford the vacation. 

“With time, one will be battling feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. If these feelings are intense, then one will start feel inadequate and soon get depressed,” he says.

Dealing with the negative feelings

Several negative feelings arise owing to upward comparisons but you do not have to go give in to them. Dr Akimana shares some ways one can feel better about social media:

Be alert: If all is going well as you browse through the social pages, then that is beautiful. However, in instances of feeling like one in the dump, Dr Akimana advises that you take note of these feelings and do not just wish them away. “Take note of what makes you feel exhausted or anxious. It is also important to see to it that social media is not making you lose time as you mindlessly scroll through the pages. Alertness to these helps you make healthy decisions,” he says.

Redefine a good life: Some people will show you photos at the swimming pool, in the mall, at a luxury spa, in new and trendy outfits and the like. While you may want all those things, you need to ask yourself if that is all that there is to a good life. “Consider what a good life is, work within your means and work towards that. That does not mean that you cannot dream. However, do not let this be the cause of poor mental health,” he says.

Look for help: If the feelings of inadequacy and depression persist despite putting your best foot forward, Dr Akimana advises women to look for medical help.


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