I’ve been thinking recently about the affect Facebook has on me and wanted to share it with you. I think it has both positive and negative affects on me and other people suffering with depression. I’ll start with the negative affects:
This is a usual function, if you are being harassed or bullied or have fallen out with someone. But when someone unfriends you or blocks you and you have no idea why, it can cause a downward spiral. You start to wonder what you have done to that person. Have you upset them? How did you upset them? Did you offend them? Or do they just not like you? Why don’t they like you? Of course they don’t like you. What’s there to like about you? Nobody likes you.
So from that one action, you can go into a severe depressive state. Of course, it doesn’t mean that at all. If there is no logical reason you can think of, it is more than likely that that person has some issues of their own.
Number of Friends
You can become fixated on the number of friends you have and how many other people have. You might check it every day to see if anyone has Unfriended you. You check other people’s friend list, to see if they have more than you. If they do, why do they have more than you? Why do people like them more than you? If you receive a friend request from someone you don’t know, you might add them, just to boost the amount of friends you have.
This can become life-consuming and it is all bollocks. If someone has lots of friends, it is likely that they don’t know all of them personally. If they do, they might have met them on a random night out or met on a holiday. It does not mean that they are in contact with them every day.
People usually post pictures of days/nights out, special occasions or lots of selfies. This can make you think that everyone is having a better time and life than you. They seem happy and have lots of friends and they are always doing something.
This can make you feel as though you are completely alone and have no-one. It can make you think that no-one likes you and never invites you out.
This is not always the case. Yes, some people have a very active life and they are always doing something and do have lots of friends, but they’re not everybody. Most people are just like you. Go to work, come home, deal with personal stuff (whether it is a partner, children, family or pets) and then might go out, but usually end up curled up in front of the TV or knee-deep in household stuff.
You shouldn’t compare your life to other people’s. Everybody is different. We all have different priorities. We all have different lifestyles.
When someone has accepted to an invite, it can sometimes pop up on your News Feed. Some people appear to be going to a lot of things and get invited to a lot of things. This can make you feel as though you are never invited anywhere, that no-one likes you and you have no ‘real’ friends.
The truth is, people might accept these invites, but a lot of the time they do not end up going. I’ve done it before. Accepted a few things and then for one reason or another, not actually gone to it. But if you looked at my Events, you would think I was a social butterfly. Again, some people do have an active life, but you shouldn’t penalise them for it, or compare yourself to them.
I think that is enough of the negative affects, so now I’m going to focus on the positive.
Yes, I know I stated it was a negative, but it can also be a positive, especially for someone suffering from a mental health issue. If you are in a very depressive state and are not able to leave your house or attend social functions, this can make feel a part of the ‘real world’. You can comment on these photos and have that interaction with people, even though you are unable to leave your house. It can be a cathartic experience.
Groups can again help you interact with people, who have a shared interest or experience. There are groups about Films and hobbies, which can make you feel a part of something. There are also groups about Mental Health, whether it is raising awareness or a safe space for people to share. The groups where people share about their experiences or their current feelings, can be a lifeline for some people. I have seen some upsetting posts on these groups where people are sharing traumatic events that have occurred in their life. The responses they receive are lovely and I like to think that they do in some way assist them with learning to deal with it. I have also seen a post from someone stating they were going to commit suicide. If most people saw that, they would think it was attention seeking. The people in the group did not. They banded together and through the wonders of Facebook, were able to contact someone through this person’s Friend list and get this person’s address. They then contacted the Emergency Services and they attended this person’s house. I believe that saved their life.
But it doesn’t always have to be that extreme, even just interacting with people can have such a positive influence on our mood.
Staying in Contact
It can be great to keep in contact with people who no longer live locally to you, whether it is friends or family. You can message them, share photos with them or just comment on their status.
But this can also apply to people who live locally to you. If you are having a ‘Bad Day’ and not able to leave the house, you can stay in contact with them. If you want to speak to someone, but do not have the energy to see them in person or feel able to have a long conversation, you can just send them a quick message or comment on something they have posted. This can make you feel that people do care for you and that you do have friends.
Making New Friends
Whether you just have an Online relationship or if you actually meet in person, it makes meeting people so much easier. It can be from a Group you have joined, someone you met on a random night out or even a friend of a friend, you can get to know them through the click of a button. I actually met my wife through Facebook. It was due to a mutual friend. Someone I had met when dating an ex, worked with my wife. I had just broken up with that ex and my wife had just come out of a relationship. On Facebook he ‘Suggested’ we should be friends and we both accepted each other. We use to just send each other messages and we weren’t planning on dating each other. She was then coming to Brighton with a friend and suggested we meet up. We did and 3 months later she moved down to Brighton.
So, it does have it’s good points and bad points. Personally, I will continue to use it, as it has helped me more than hinder me. But I think Facebook should take some accountability for the negative affects it can have on people suffering from Depression.