Is Social Media Tanking Your Mood?
I have a friend who looks at Facebook. A lot. She posts some, too, and her posts are usually funny or uplifting. Her husband is handy, and she posts updates on the remodeling they’re doing on their house. She has two children, both still toddlers. Her posts of them are always upbeat. She even has a golden retriever puppy. Posts of him are always adorable, because he can’t not look cute even if he’s getting into trouble!
But my friend has a problem. Whenever she spends much time on Facebook or Instagram, she comes away feeling like something’s missing. Sometimes she even feels depressed. “I have a good life,” she says, “Why does looking at others’ posts make me feel this way?”
The good news is my friend is lucky. The posts of her friends are all upbeat and positive. Hardly ever any drama. That’s a good thing. Right?
Then why does browsing on Facebook make my friend, (and a lot of other people I’ve talked with about it) sometimes feel like their lives are missing something? Like their Facebook friends know something they don’t know about how to live a great life?
And there’s the problem. People post what they want others to see. It’s like a good fiction book. All the boring parts have been eliminated. And let’s face it, sometimes the drama is also heightened, and your friends on Facebook suddenly seem bigger than real life, too. Almost like movie stars.
Seth Godin, a blogger and international business guru has this to say about it.
Where are the movie stars?
I'm sitting in a crowded lobby in Los Angeles, surrounded by 100 or so people. Not one of them looks like a movie star. No one has perfect hair, a perfect family, a perfect life.
I'm at a fancy conference in Boulder. There are a thousand CEOs and founders here. Not one is gliding through her day the way the folks on magazine covers are. Not one has a glitch-free project and the clear sailing that the articles imply.
And here, at the gym in Yonkers, I'm not seeing a single person who looks like he could be on the cover of Men's Health.
Role models are fine. But not when they get in the way of embracing our reality. The reality of not enough time, not enough information, not enough resources. The reality of imperfection and vulnerability.
There are no movie stars. Merely people who portray them now and then.
Seth has a lot of good things to say in his daily blog. Check out his content here!
Facebook is not real life. What you see on Facebook is just people showing others the best parts of themselves, the most fun times, the most touching moments. They’re taking the best pages of their lives, editing them to make them perfect, and displaying them for others’ attention and approval. What you are seeing is real people, portraying movie stars…
That’s the tricky thing about social media. It’s not real. Real life is messy. Real life is often boring. Quite frankly, most days are not “Facebook worthy,” if you’re trying to portray a movie star.
If browsing Facebook or any other social media makes you feel blue, or frustrated, or angry, maybe it’s time to shut it off for a while. Stop looking and stop posting. And if you find you can’t, even when you try, if it makes you feel agitated or even afraid if you’re not checking those sites multiple times a day, it might be time to talk to someone about it.
- Autumn Starks, LCSW (about)
Founder and Psychotherapist, Starks Therapy Group
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