Monday, March 28, 2011

At Risk For Facebook Depression?

When on Facebook, do you…

- Spend more than five minutes looking through someone else’s tagged photos?
- View profiles without leaving any indication you were there?
- Read conversations on someone’s wall that does not pertain to you?
- Dwell on how happy your friend looks in their new profile picture?
- Feel a twinge in your stomach when someone has more friends than you?

If these symptoms occur on a regular basis in your life, you may be susceptible to Facebook depression. Although research is still inconclusive, an article by Fox News explores the potential that Facebook may be causing depression among its users, and let’s face it, we’re all users of this wonderfully addictive site.

The article targets teenagers as the main victims of Facebook depression, as they are less confident in themselves as the college students who co-habit a large portion of Facebook. Social networking is at an all-time high, targeting the generations who create the majority of their identity through interaction on the internet. In Effective Biblical Counseling, Larry Crabb states that the average person seeks security and significance in life. We seek to win the approval of our peers, to find our self-worth in the validation of others. This is the lure of Facebook.

It is important to note that a healthy self-esteem may protect you from succumbing to social media induced depression. So take heart! You can build your online self-esteem by carefully cultivating a profile page that you can be proud of and showcases the very heart of yourself. Fill in all every band that you’ve remotely liked since the age of five, start some gossip with a witty status about the cute brunette you made eye contact with in class, or post the latest viral video to hit YouTube.

Or, you could just log off Facebook and actually go see your friends. That would work too.


  1. Oh, dear. Where to begin! I think this is an important study. The "psychology" behind Facebook has always been fascinating to me. The list of "symptoms" you describe here are a reflection of the fact that some folks, okay a LOT of folks, spend more time carefully cultivating their virtual identity than they do their actual one. Reasons for this? Control. We look infinitely cooler in our prepared responses that are ever so carefully crafted on our own time than in our normal, caught of guard, zoned out "out-of-office" replies we might fall victim to during a hectic, stressful day. At least, that's what I hear.... Which brings me to another point, denial (isn't this a sign of addiction?) of how much time is actually spent on Facebook for the purpose of saving face (pun unintended). A recent trend I've noticed with many of my friends is that they are deactivating their accounts for a period of time. Without exception, all have reported being much more productive during these off times. Which leads me to believe that more time is being spent "networking" than realized.

    I know of at least two people in our class who would disagree that we're all "users" but you're right, Facebook has become an integral part of most people's existence. These virtual posters that we display of our lives (revealing mostly only the good and ideal parts of us) are obviously grossly inaccurate if one is honest about the nature of managing daily existence and what that actually looks like. It's not all pretty. But Facebook profiles lead to the temptation to compare our messy lives to the perfection that we think represents someone else's life. Facebook is not for the faint of heart or easily convinced!

    I will be interested to see some of the research that comes out on the effects of Facebook on society and culture as well as mental health in the next decade or so. I think we'll be surprised by the impact of a such a seemingly innocuous pastime.

  2. Oh Facebook. The thrill of having your friends comment on your cool new profile picture, he reoccurring disappointment of finding out all your new notifications are just updates from AACC. *grimaces* With most things though, I think that study can apply to the vast majority of facebook users. I think it really only becomes an issue when it is taken to a much greater extreme. Than again, maybe we are all depressed and just don't notice anymore.

  3. I think this is a really interesting topic and is something I've thought of that's happenning with the widespread use of facebook and people's tendency to "facebook stalk" other people. People are posting their "idetities" online and attempt to create an image of themselves to the outside world about who they are, what they have, etc. While this may be somewhat good to have the outlet of self expression through a networking site like facebook, I too believe that it can be detrimental to a person's self-confidence or contentment in life. Now more than ever, people are aware of what's going on in others' lives and there is a constant opportunity to compare your own life to everyone else's lives who have become your "friends". Depending on how many friends you have, this could be a comparison between you and anywhere from 50-1,000 people. This opportunity for comparison and envy of other peoples' lives is also a prime opportunity for depression and dissatisfaction in one's own life.


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