Sunday, May 14, 2017

Divine Earthly Experience 9: The Connection of Facebook to Depression and Isolation

"There is also the question of why many users spend so much time online. People who are already mildly depressed or feeling socially isolated may log onto Facebook as a way of connecting with others or to relieve their own sense of sadness. Unfortunately, being subjected to repeated evidence that other people have more interesting lives often has the opposite effect."—Romeo Vitelli, Psychology Today 

Hello Fellow Earthlings,

How are you? It's been a little over a week since I unplugged from Facebook. It's strange. There is even a name for this. It's called "virtual suicide." However, I don't think I fit into that category because I'm here virtually on this blog. I don't miss Facebook or social media, strangely. It occupied a fair share of my time and I see now that I'm glad to have the space to do other things. I had to actually "deactivate" my account because I knew that if I stayed on it, I'd check it somehow.

What is the reason to remain on Facebook or other social media? I guess it's a way of connecting and not feeling isolated. It's a way of saying, "Hey, my life is good!" or "I'm not okay." We can also check in on others to see what they are doing.

A friend at work said she is also thinking about leaving Facebook. She read a study that Facebook can cause depression because people read about how wonderful everyone's lives are and they start to compare and realize that they don't have such an amazing life. It can make you feel like something is missing or something is wrong with you.

I, too, was in the habit of posting photos, etc. of awesome experiences I was having. Not surprisingly, the mood I chose to display most of all on Facebook was "awesomeness." To be honest, even in the dark periods of my life, I often found the silver lining and something positive to share. I am a firm believer in the fact that what you focus on in life is what will show up for you. I choose to focus on the positive. But I'm not immune to sharing difficult experiences with others and I did so both here and on Facebook and luckily many people reached out and could relate.

I had dinner with a new friend last night in REAL TIME. She's only known me since things have looked up in my life, since after my partner of 20 years left. She doesn't know how heart-wrenching that was for me. She was not there. From her perspective, I post too many positive photos of my recent experiences on Facebook. She had no idea that I am no longer there. I know the reason why she said it. I know it's because she is currently having a really hard time.

But I don't think the answer is to be angry at people for posting cool photos, positive quotes, cute baby or cat pictures, inspiring ideas or even for people tooting their own horns for doing something awesome (i.e. getting married,  having a baby, getting a promotion, starting a business, getting a book deal or record deal). This is LIFE and people tend to want to focus on the positive. I love reading about all the inspiring things my friends are doing.

It sure beats the negative and we have plenty of that in our world and our lives, don't we? During the last election, I steered clear of social media. It just bummed me out. People were so ferocious on Facebook. The viciousness and disregard for fellow human beings was evident. I just didn't want to participate. Not because I don't care, but because I don't want to be part of energy that is vicious or mean.

I think it's okay to express darker emotions as long as we are not hurting anyone. Maybe people don't feel safe to express those emotions publicly. They feel they might be judged or gossiped about. Isn't it funny how humans operate? When we hear good news about someone, we are not always so happy for them and when we hear bad news, some of us secretly feel good because our lives aren't THAT bad. What is wrong with this picture? If we are all connected on an energetic level, my good news is your good news and the bad things I experience are also connected to you.

This is what compassion is about.

If Facebook or social media is not the place to express darker emotions, I think it's important to have a safe place to express those. We should never be afraid of how we feel because every single one of us experiences sadness, pain, defeat, loss and grief at one point or another. Just as all of us experience happiness, joy, satisfaction and love at one point or another. We are not perpetually in a state of AWESOME-NESS. Our states of mind really depend on many things and are as changeable as the weather. We could have blue skies in one area and dark clouds of doom in another and even a rainbow in the middle. There is NOTHING WRONG with the dark clouds or dark emotions, but it would seem that sometimes on Facebook or social media, dark emotions just don't exist for most people. I'm not saying these emotions are not expressed, I'm just saying they aren't as common as the rainbow and blue skies variety of updates and posts. And then it begs the question, is Facebook for real? We are not seeing the full picture. We've certainly gained a wider audience, but at the cost of real, heart to heart interactions. 

So now that I've unplugged from Facebook, I am feeling a tad bit of isolation, if I could be really honest here. I would love it if you are reading this right here and now to let me know you are there. Why? Because for this moment, we are connecting. For this short period of time in your life, you are here reading my blog and I'd love to know that.

Do you ever feel depressed, overwhelmed, sad or angry about the things you read on Facebook or other social media?

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