Your digital identity – forged on the cyberspace platforms of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – is likely making you depressed.
Studies have shown how social media can hold sway over a person’s real identity – effecting self-esteem, triggering eating disorders, provoking criticism over selfies and other posted pics. In extreme cases, anxiety over a person’s digital identity can result in the inclination to surgically augment one’s real appearance.
Thus it’s no surprise the constant scrutiny over maintaining your digital identity can make you depressed.
One example of this is outlined PsychCentral, detailing how the author’s friend was compelled to delete her Instagram account – citing how the constant pressure of a certain digital appearance lead her to be depressed. Wearing the right outfit, taking pictures in the right light or filter, posing in a flattering manner were all becoming more than she could bear.
The term depression is ambiguous, used to denote many mood disorders. Clinical depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 19 million Americans each year. According to Harvard Medical, depression can afflict as many as 2.5 percent of children and 8.3 percent of teens in the United States.
Whether you realize it or not, you’re spending a great deal of time and effort on the construction of your digital identity. If you find you are becoming preoccupied with the appearance of both your real and digital identity, here are a few ways to avoid developing social media-related depression:
- Take the time to unplug from technology and social media accounts every day. Even if your job surrounds what goes on in cyberspace, take a few minutes to step away. Go outside, engage with friends (in person), or run some errands.
- When faced with social media-induced self-loathing, confront your negative thoughts and question their origin and validity. Other than air-brushed, digitally enhanced supermodels, who is content with their appearance both online and off? Confidence wears well. Remind yourself of your positive qualities and stop dwelling on the negative.
- If you’re drawn to social media during times of boredom. Instead, ensure you have something to distract yourself, such as a book, crossword, or app game to play. Do something other than tearing through your friends tagged pics on Facebook.
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