Scrolling down a Facebook spiral


Social comparisons among Facebook users can lead to depression 

Rubina Hoque, a 26-year-old married woman, was scrolling down her Facebook homepage. She observed that one of her friends had posted some snapshots. This friend and her husband had gone on a tour to pass some quality time, and were posting photos on Facebook to share how they were enjoying themselves. 

Rubina, upon her husband’s return from work, requested him to take her to Cox’s Bazar. Her husband refused, as he did not have enough money for such a vacation. Rubina was furious at her husband. For the next few days, she felt sad that they could not make it to Cox’s Bazar.

Shafat Mostofa Rubel, a 29-year-old man, noticed a status by one of his friends. His friend had recently been appointed as a lecturer in a public university. Rubel was happy for his friend but, at the same time, he felt frustrated because he could not make it that far himself.

Rubel is currently working in a private company as an executive, but his friends are doing much better than him in their professional lives. Despite getting the same education from the same institution, Rubel has failed to achieve much. 

In contrast, his friends are performing quite well, and they post pictures and status updates flaunting their achievements. Whenever Rubel sees these, he feels very depressed, not because of his friends’ success, but because of his own failures.

These two instances introduce us to the dark side of Facebook. Almost all of us have Facebook accounts and we pass considerable amounts of time on this social networking site. Some of us share every little detail of our lives openly with our Facebook friends. 

However, Facebook can sometimes turn out to be a complete disaster for some people, and can result in depression among those users. Depression in real life, instigated by Facebook, can be understood from two perspectives — “social comparisons” and “individual achievements.”  

As far as the first point is concerned, there is no doubt that Facebook can take a heavy toll on your mental health and affect you psychologically by instilling negativity in you. Scrolling through happy status updates, exciting vacation photos, and beautiful family moments often leads users to compare their lives with those of their Facebook friends.

These social comparisons ultimately compel the users to take for granted that their Facebook friends have better lives. Such feelings can develop into depression among these users.

In addition to that, “individual achievements” may sometimes trigger depression among some people. When we browse Facebook, we often encounter people who are more successful than us. Whether you admit it or not, it seems that Facebook users tend to compete with their Facebook friends and so, they keep showing off their achievements on Facebook by updating statuses which display how successful they are. 

Such attitudes create a sense of inadequacy among some people, as the more exposure users have to evidence of Facebook friends doing better than they are, the more it is likely that the less-successful friends will evaluate themselves negatively. 

The social and psychological impacts of this kind of negative self-evaluation can be very disheartening and can lead certain users to a state of shock and depression.

So, what now? Considering the aforementioned factors, should we stop using Facebook? No, not at all. Just remember that our lives are completely different from each other, so never make social comparisons. 

And never forget that most people deliberately don’t share their problems and insecurities on Facebook. So, you can only compare yourself with the person you were yesterday, not with someone else. If you can develop such an attitude, then you can scroll through your Facebook homepage and friends’ profiles without the fear of depression. 

Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a journalist.