This week got me thinking about social media, networks, people, personalities, depression and expression. Firstly, that I absolutely have concluded I do NOT have a personality that lends itself well to stuff like this. I move too fast, I talk too fast, much of the best of me is too confined in this type of space. There’s no timing, no touching, no pitch, no inflection, no body language, no facial expressions, it fails to convey soooooo much of the best of me at so many levels. My Scottish German charm is crippled in these little boxes of words… It really is. That’s why I love being out and about, and do so much better in person.
For me it always feels like you’ve taken someone that talks with their hands and put them in a straight jacket and then told them to have a heartfelt conversation. It genuinely feels like that. It doesn’t work for me, like, at all.
But I also got to thinking, and realized something else. In our need to connect, that true connection is miserably and bitterly failing to a certain degree the people who need it most and I’ll tell you why I think social media and depression are a really really bad combination. Without getting into my own stuff, this weeks events really got me thinking about things. Now for the purpose of connecting with people, especially if you’re isolated, something like this initially was intended to sell you on the illusion of closeness, “friends”…. Right? But for people that are depressed, experiencing grief, struggling with depression, loss, and trying to manage it, look to something like this as a means to hopefully receive some help, real help, when it is desperately needed. The lure and the false temptation is that to share something traumatic or about how you feel, is done with that hope of reciprocity that these people who’s life you see are somehow going to come to your aid.
There is a psychological vulnerability and unfilled hope that they’ll stop their endless narcissism , selfies, and general ramblings of their life (done in the spirit of trust and “connectivity” we’ve been sold on) and maybe actually care. As in care enough to stop what they’re doing and be there for you, come to your aid, and maybe, (God forbid) actually call you, or even better COME TO YOUR HOUSE and spend time with you to help you feel better, talk out your problems, hug you, cry with you, and really actually BE THERE for you. But instead, more often than not, that intensified cluster of tertiary distant stately royal waves, dispassionate digitally gruffy half hearted condolences or inquiries only offer a carrot of hope that leads to greater disappointment, when no one actually DOES ANYTHING to help.
In addition it only adds to the burden as that hijacked reward system, that the little red box of notifications which feeds your addiction, only furthers the hammering of shards into your heart and psyche and soul with disappointment. The technology itself is addictive pressing that little reward button of dopamine every time a post loop is completed. Toss one in… Get a response. Well, when someone is down, that can be really dangerous, triggering more and more hope, that is then disappointed even more, furthering and deepening someone’s depression.
Add to this the bitter knife of comparison through pictures at a life that could be had, hoped for, or wished for seeing places that are nicer than yours, self help phrases that blame you for your own depression, pictures of happy kids when yours are misbehaving, pregnancies and babies if you are having trouble conceiving, or hopes of love in the beautiful face of someone you adore that might be far away or that is too guarded or that seriously “just doesn’t get it” when you have real feelings and the very real chance at a wonderful life together and you don’t know why you aren’t together, or reckless use of abundance in an area you’d desperately like to have more of…. All rubbing it right in your face…. None of which most likely helps someone feel better, and pushes someone further and further down. Mostly mind you, because all of that is potentially something that someone might feel happy for someone else about, if they ACTUALLY SHOWED UP.
I have to confess I am not really convinced that social media is helping with anything possibly except for peoples careers that approach it that way, in a constant posturing of carefully selected pictures, catch phrases, tips, rambling feeds, and backhanded gratitude statements of semi marketed superiority or enticement on how you can have their amazing life but only if you sink x amount if dollars into their new consulting seminar, etc… Which might pan out actually, you never know, and there’s the rub…. You’ll just have a tease but never get the prize, not just being you that is… Which incurs only more depression and greater disappointment.
In turn makes the person hoping for all the effort they’ve put into their “friends” or “network” even more miserable and sadder, and this means if trying to reach out and connect turns into an even sadder realization that perhaps their “friends” are nothing more that fair weather sadistic voyeurs who are addicted to the news feed, and just gather from a distance to half heartedly pay attention to someone’s suffering and slowly watch them die. Which, of course a conclusion of that type only adds to the sadness depression, sense of isolation, and worsens the state of someone already in tremendous pain and suffering, who is trying to reach out for help through the ways that they have available.
Obviously that’s really awful, and very very dangerous.
I don’t think social networks are necessarily dangerous, when they’re filled with very present hands on people for someone. But I think if someone is having a rough time, the potential of having that slowly dimming sense of hope grow darker faster by people who don’t show up, don’t take action, and actually come to your house in person to be present and edifying, can make things infinitely worse, much much faster. Neglect is listed as a form of abuse for a reason. And sometimes I think social media is one of it’s favorite weapons of choice.
I don’t think social networks have made us better or close, sometimes I think they’ve done nothing but potentially make us more accustomed to and desensitized us to our willful neglect of others that we call “friends”.
It doesn’t have to be that way, I’m saying by people choice to NOT SHOW UP, it is. That’s why I think that social media and depression, grief, loss, and just for life in general are a really bad combination for people who struggle with depression, and or addiction Think about it the next time you flip past a post of something awful a friend is going through.
Are you part of the problem or a part of the solution? You don’t have to answer, but I’m just saying, from your mouth to God’s ear. We could all do better. If we’re talking about health, then we have to be truthful about the things that affect it.
Here’s to a healthier happier you. Be mindful be present be compassionate be loving and for goodness sakes, if someone you know is hurting SHOW UP.