Facebook Depression and Addiction are serious issues

Log on and soon you can be down in the dumps or filled with good cheer. Why do we have to rely on a daily dose of social media to feed the need for acknowledgenent?

The flipside of FacebookCredit: Sue Visser

How about meeting people face to face instead of mousing around?

If you are deeply depressed you can now sink even lower by opening Facebook and comparing yourself to the perfect lives, pictures and the latest raves and pins of your cyberfriends. Facebook or similar platforms classified as social media have revealed a dark side that is causing a lot of concern. It seems to affect teenagers and has resulted in conditions now classified as mental illnesses - Facebook depression and addiction. In many cases depressed people put up an opposite front on their profiles for all to see. This causes some to sink into a deeper depression and incites jealousy in others who then try to compete against what is actually an illusion. People get nasty, petty and spiteful. What really hurts an innocent, kind and loving person are the snide and snappy - faceless comments that people can make anonymously.

The fair face of Facebook and lovely people who are not two faced

For some, the opportunity to reach out and make freinds (and keep them) is only to score higher in the statistics on their profile pages. So, what is wrong with making friends, showing love and caring and sharing - you may ask?  Although not a popular trend, people who do this on Facebook are not depressed, lonely or frustrated. When social media is used to communicate and share it is a valuable bonding facility. It is up to us to use Facebook to serve and to share the good that is in us and other people we resonate with. Just like the old days of pen friends, we can have internet friends and great is the joy when you meet in the flesh one day. But the issue here is not the miles that separate us from friends and family members. They may even be in the same room! It is the dark, dark side of Facebook that turns little children into remorseless monsters - just because they seem to be able to get away with it.

To friend or not to friend. How to spite your nearest and dearest

Have you ever found a nice picture or a funny video you really wanted to share with a family member or a close friend? Of course, so you click on your address panel and discover they aren't there anymore. They have "unfriended" you on Facebook. This is done intentionally, in cold blood. A well-meaning, loving mother suddenly finds her daughter has closed off her page. Access denied. No more interactions. Nada. This petty and spiteful way of dishonouring the 5th commandment can lead to a lot of hurt and heartache. The offending elder may have unwittingly said something on the spur of the moment and may not even have meant it. Has this happened to other baby boomers? Of course, families keep in touch and choose to load up their pages and open and shut the doors as they please. It seems that children now have the right to humiliate their parents and to demand apologies in order to to stay their "Facebook friends".

Gone are the days of sending real paper greeting cards. Now you are"told" to push a button and pump out a message. Some of them mean well but - I love the fragrant cards my Mother sends. She is not computer literate and smells of roses and lavender. I love her dearly, despite the years it took me to realise what fine parents I had. I had plenty of grievances and hated a lot about my parents and how they behaved and what they did. But I would never have "unfriended" them publicly on Facebook even if I had reason to do so. We didn't have the technical temptations they do these days to strike out with toxic texts. We can all choose to resolve issues face to face.

We all go to parties and have a few drinks and it loosens the tongue. But oh my, the person who takes offence and plots a Facebook revenge against somebody in sober, cold blood does so intentionally. It can cause indelible emotional pain and is certainly not a case of what we used to call - the broken telephone. There is nothing broken, mistaken or accidental about posting a catty remark at the click of a button or shutting down a friend. After a while the same person may tell you to ask them to become friends again. meanwhile, other friends sneak around have been sharing pictures and tidbits from the no-go zone with you anyway. What? we used to do this at primary school. Now we don't need to even face the person or conversely, turn our backs on them. We can pull a Faceless number on them and then sneer at them from the playground we call the internet. (In case you wonder what children do with their cellphones.)

Some people get all the attention with their corny posts but  you get ignored

People also keep changing their profile to get more attention. Let's face it, we all need to get acknowledgement of some kind to maintain our ego-based images of ourselves. We as characters, egos or service facsimiles are not real. It is only by agreement that the impressions we send out on the emotional (and now internet) airwaves to others that an ego can exist. Facebook comes to the rescue of billions of egos and helps to boost their levels of serotonin, dopamine, cortisol and adrenaline in both desirable and not so desirable ways. As such, it has become a drug and we need a daily Facebook fix to release our neurochemistry.

Cat and mouseCredit: Sue Visser

A depressed and lonely person may make a some overtures to invite comments from friends and if they are completely ignored, you can imagine how lousy it feels. They take a lot of effort to paste a cool video, some exciting pictures and share a really interesting article. But throughout the day there is no response. Nothing. That sinking feeling, almost a cussed affirmation that nobody loves me, nobody cares.

Looking for sympathyCredit: Sue VisserThis is not fair - compared to your other friends when you take a secret peek at their profiles. They get dozens of rave responses, loads of likes and links and shares. Even if their posts are corny, stupid and meaningless, some people get more likes than you do. This scenario happens on an hourly basis, especially to teenagers and they are soon channeled into a narrow, lonely miserable space that isn't even real! It drags down their serotonin and other feel-good chemicals and sends them into a spin of depression that needs medical attention.

           Cyberspace is where everything seems to matter these days.

Gone are the big homely hugs - the warm sunshine.

A new profileCredit: Sue VisserIs that the real you? The latest version - why have you changed your profile picture again? We don't change our mug shots on passports or diver's licences. Those pictures are used for identification. Looking at the picture = looking at the person. Not a dog or a cat, a gadget or a baby! But on the kinky social media hangout like Facebook it is cool to draw attention to the latest "you". Not so? So you can get likes, obviously. Some people need a constant flow of likes to make their day. Nothing wrong with that. As children we all targeted an extra motherly hug and competed with our siblings in an overt way. But now we can log onto Facebook and solicit what often turns out to be fake and flippant comments and likes to satisfy that gap in our upbringing. As my friend Jack Marlando says: "We are all victims of our childhood." He maintains that "you can freely CHOOSE forgiveness over anger, love over hate and kindness over cruelty." My knuckles whiten to think of how Facebook has become the tool of revenge for people with severe if not manic disorders.

We can create a false impression or a real impression to incite jealousy

Some Facebook members create impressions of themselves to incite envy aimed at somebody in particular, such as a partner or close friend they may resent. These tools of revenge take the form of posting pictures showing what a great time we are having with a new friend, hanging out in cool places and getting new gadgets. Meanwhile, on the other side of the keyboard it may be just the opposite. There you sit - all alone, lost in a field of mixed emotions and somehow you just can't log off and let life (or yourself, or others) be. You have a cup of tea, switch on the lights, close the curtains, have a leak and then? Log onto Facebook again. People with low self-esteem - according to a number of social media studies form the majority of daily Facebook users. Have a look at this field of lavender. Do you want to sneak around, to fit in or to make a big loud impression. We can do what we like - but do we always like what we do?

Hide in the matrixCredit: Sue Visser

How does time on Facebook affect happiness and depression?

The more time people spend, either playing free games or posting or doing whatever they do when compulsively logged onto Facebook increases the extent of their dopamine dependent sensations. Also the effects of opposing neurotransmitters like adrenaline and serotonin are generated artificially, by the reactions people have to what they see on the little screen. If you lose a game after an epic emotional or physical battle you slump into a depressed rut when the adrenaline and cortisol levels decline. Your self-esteem takes a knock and even testosterone levels sink. So you seek more rewards - revenge or comfort or something more uplifting or relaxing to lighten your load. But,Trying to match the profileCredit: Sue Visser hey, why still rely on your social media or Facebook page? Depression has many causes and there are ways to help people with drugs, supplementation, psychotherapy and simple positive lifestyle changes. But for many, the obsessive dependence on Mother Facebook to supply all the feel good / feel bad chemistry is secretly overwhelming the human race. A new condition known as Facebook addiction has come to the fore. Let's face it, we are all Facebook fans these days. It is a convenient way to stay in touch without touching.

Beware the Facebook addiction - the beeps, the distractions

Instead of giving your friends a call or a personal visit, one can now sneak around their Facebook cyberspace. It is secretive and obviously you will be greeted by the pictures and posts they have planted there to make you feel jealous, happy, sad, enlightened or just plain annoyed. You can choose to make your presence felt by adding a "like" or chipping in with a suitable comment, to stay in their good books. Conversely you can zip around and take the risk of being detected by the spy panel that lets you know if your friends are active on their accounts. These are the confessions of many, as we know from You Tube videos on the Facebook topic.

The roving eyes on FacebookCredit: Sue VisserAre you becoming

a Facebook addict?

The experts say that if you spend over 50 hours a week logged onto Facebook you show signs of becoming an addict. This is especially true if you do it to the exclusion of your work or study. It becomes a glorious form of procrastination, an obsession - just one more time, I need to know what so and so is up to, how they liked my post? Excuses not to help around the house, walk the dog for a dose of fresh air or sunshine.

I can identify with the problem and am as guilty as anybody else to becoming more dependent on cybertime to do my work instead of knitting tea cosies and making scones in my free time. I used to only have the internet at the office and enjoyed a strict ration of Facebook for a few minutes of the day. Not even every day. Week ends were what I called organic, unplugged time.

All that changed when we got linked up at home to the internet. I knew it would happen! Now here I sit, logged onto the internet writing articles for Info Barrel and continuously peeking at Facebook! For me it is a way of managing our business page, monitoring upcoming events, making new friends. Innocent enough and quite useful as an interface for Nature Fresh, our own small company where we use Facebook as a tool to enhance our business relationship with customers. I value the comments and feedback and try all the harder to please them. (They love the articles I write for Info barrel!) After every piece I write on the internet I have the option to post it to Facebook and I love sharing my health features with people who also love herbs.

I "like" click - simply LOVE my Facebook space!

But I am not an addict and it does not depress me

For me Facebook is a wonderful place to care and share. I "meet" wonderful people, kindred spirits and when I feel like a cosmic hug there is always somebody who has joined our Nature Fresh family to make my day. It is lovely to visit their individual places in the sky and pick up and share some profound quotations, an uplifting article, a funny video or an inspiring picture. Of course I like it! I like, like like and so do they. So don't get me wrong, Facebook is my family. But familiarity breeds contempt. Being too familiar with your own children can lead to them biting you. There is a time and a place for everything. One needs to know when to love and when leave them and Facebook! Change your surroundings, change your outfit and your outlook for a while. Go get some sunshine and drink a glass of fresh spring water.

Sneaking around trying to camoflage ourselvesCredit: Sue Visser

A few pointers to help you control Facebook before it controls you:

  • Control your Facebook and other social media settings carefully and make sure you have adequate protection from internet thieves, viruses and opportunistic spammers out there.
  • Don't keep too much information on your desktop - they love jumping in there and we have no guarantee that mischief  like Pandora's box is being done at the same time. Too soon you may find that Facebook knows too much about you.
  • It is best to keep your pictures and personal stuff for Facebook on a flash drive. Plug it in and browse for pictures either from there or the internet that are already in public view.
  • If you are a single, young and very attractive young woman (or man) them opt for an alternative to your best portrait. Use an avatar such as a cat or a dog or even an artwork or cartoon. Anything to stop prowlers and pornofreaks from trying to hit on you.
  • Manage your account to block off strangers and only interact with people you know and trust. Be careful of the books, songs, movies and other crap they ask about you. All that info is fed to people who can ambush you with spam. It also says a lot about you and may not always be to your advantage.
  • If you are a student or have serious work to do away from mobile phones or the internet then make yourself a special time every day or even once a week when you can play catch up. I have found that it takes some people over 2 weeks to respond to a message. Other people will reply within 2 seconds, so you know what I mean.
  • Don't take everything to heart that you read on people's pages. Sometimes they try to boost their self-esteem with a display of shameless self promotion - just to make you jealous. Use this space to exercise your access to your higher self. Seek out a cyber guru - on Facebook or here at Info Barrel where you can learn to get things into perspective.
  • If you have blotted your copybook on Facebook and said too many nasty things too often for too long, then shut yourself down. Quit Facebook. Quit comparing yourself to other unreal beings you may be unwittingly reeled into. After all, no kind-hearted, honest and loving people are there on Facebook to intentionally upset you.
  • We need to take a serious look at what social networking has done to straight, honest communication. Sometimes it is better to pick up the phone or knock on somebody's front door. We do have the time - honestly we do!

Go unplugged for a while and feel the pulse of the earth beneath your bare feet.

Meet and greet people face to face!

Hug them, tell them you love them.

Cry, eat and love in real space, not cyberspace!

Now bug off!Credit: Sue Visser


 Now listen to some talks. Why does Facebook bug so many of us?


Does Facebook really decrease our spells of happiness and increase depression?