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Thread: Social Media and Mental Illness

  1. #1
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    Social Media and Mental Illness

    Taking another break from my busy day and I wanted to put this out there for thought and discussion. I've avoided social media pretty successfully for a few reasons: strained family-of-origin relationships, a desire to avoid the comparison (and resulting envy/resentment/lust) that these platforms engender, and the awareness that for someone who suffers from mental illness this could lead to some dangerous territory. In many ways, I feel that social media brings us emotionally back to high school with an unhealthy obsession over likes, attention, etc. And an unhealthy need for instant gratification. There have been many studies and reports of social media use correlating to feelings of loneliness and depression. I don't need any more of that, thank you very much.

    But..... there is also the cost of not being on social media. Isolation is a big one.

    I don't really know where the cost/benefit situation is at this point. Am I being wisely cautious or overly cautious? Don't know.

    Would love to hear other people's points of view on this. If you struggle with depression/mental illness/compulsive behavior or addiction (or know someone who does), I would especially appreciate hearing your opinion and experience on this.

    I sometimes wonder if putting myself on social media would be the equivalent of putting an extroverted recovering alcoholic in a bar every day. The potential for damage would be substantial. But that's where all your friends and family are. How do you maintain your relationships, and fulfill your need for connection, without hurting yourself?

  2. #2
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Social media participation is terrible for my wife's depression. She can get lost in mindlessly surfing it all day long. She has to consciously ration herself, or it ends poorly.

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    I have (currently) significant mental health issues. Doesn't feel good to say that. I am careful about social media but definitely am engaged in at least facebook. I did NOT put it one my new phone however. That means on work days i can check it twice generally. Weekends i need to be more aware.

    For me a big part of it is why i am on there, and who do i follow. I dont actually follow a lot of my friends. However i am an admin for several buddhist groups and keep an eye on the pages, answer questions aboutthe meetings, delete crap, and approve requests.

    I think i was able to not engage so much with comparison a few years ago when i heard enough real life stories of people posting happy things. Sometimes they needed that one happy post to get them through,

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    What is it you would want from social media?

    I was instructed by a niece nearly 10y ago that she would not print/mail photos of the kids anymore. If I want to see them, I have to get a FB account. So I did. I still have just over 100 friends....most invites I ignore. However, it does enable me to keep up with family spread across 4 states. Some of whom I only see once every 5 years!

    You could do a 90 day trial? Create an account. Be selective in who you invite to friend. And b super selective on the invites you accept from others who find you.

    The other option is to remain FB free. There's nothing wrong with that! You know yourself best!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    bae - thank you for sharing that. It's exactly what I'm afraid of. I suffer from anxiety and depression and it just seems like the way social media works, it would amplify both of those conditions.

    Zoe Girl - I've struggled for a long time in accepting my own mental health issues. It's not easy. I was thinking how in the animal world, animals do not show pain because it would make them vulnerable. I think we humans unconsciously do the same thing. For a long time I've kinda fought my condition but lately I've been working on acceptance. I was listening to a podcast (Linehan, I think) and she said that you cannot change what you do not accept, that acceptance must come first. It was very interesting. I was once on an online class and a classmate shared that she was really struggling with suicidal thoughts, yet was being very vigilant to maintain a very "happy" facade on facebook. The cognitive dissonance in that really struck me - it would be exhausting to maintain a happy facade all the time. It seems to me that it's difficult to mentally disconnect from social media once you are on it. Right now I can go days, even a week or more, without turning on my computer, and I hardly ever use my phone.

    Gardnr - that is an excellent question. If I'm honest, what I want is a feeling of authentic connection. But I don't know if social media can provide that. And if I'm being really honest, I don't know if I can have that even in real life. Part of my mental health issues is a fear of vulnerability. Sometimes I think that social media will make it easier to connect and therefore be less scary. And then I think that it will actually be more scary because I'll feel like I'm exposed for the whole world to see.

  6. #6
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    i wonder if the constant search for external feedback is why social media depresses people, it's all extrinsic rewards (the likes). And yea chasing after those external rewards is part of life heaven knows, but it doesn't have to be such a large part of our hobbies for lack of a better word.

    I don't know, honestly my experiences with social media were just weird, and so while there might be some benefit to a network (and that's a more accurate way to put it than saying "friends") ... it didn't much suit me either.
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

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    One part of why it works for me is i never count my likes as part of validation. It is interesting to see what posts get likes or are not noticed, but i know there are many times i see something and don't comment also. I can see how that would be affecting people negatively.

    Now my newsletter i get focused on

  8. #8
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    This is clarifying some confusion for me a little.

    To me, FB is just a tool that I use when I want to check something on a site that advertises on FB. I don't use it for anything else. I didn't realize that users were finding validation or external satisfaction of basic emotional needs. That was why I didn't understand the attraction or the reliance on it for news, etc .

    I wonder if this disconnect of mine is common or if I am out of sync with society's use of social media. It is just a tool like a spatula or wooden spoon unless we give it more power over our lives and our thinking. It has no power of its own.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  9. #9
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by razz View Post
    This is clarifying some confusion for me a little.

    To me, FB is just a tool that I use when I want to check something on a site that advertises on FB. I don't use it for anything else. I didn't realize that users were finding validation or external satisfaction of basic emotional needs. That was why I didn't understand the attraction or the reliance on it for news, etc .

    I wonder if this disconnect of mine is common or if I am out of sync with society's use of social media. It is just a tool like a spatula or wooden spoon unless we give it more power over our lives and our thinking. It has no power of its own.
    I dont understand getting “news” from FB. I dont get news sources unles you count postings about iris, lilies, and bulldogs as “ news.”

  10. #10
    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    I dont understand getting “news” from FB.
    A number of my FB friends post links to news on other sites. I also belong to a townwide group, where news about town meetings, accidents etc is posted.

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