Facebook Depression or Depression & Facebook?

By Nicholas SolomonZi781oC

Facebook tends to have polarizing posts.  People usually post about something exceptionally good or about something extraordinarily bad.  For people like me, all Facebook seems to be are post about their friends getting jobs, getting, married, going on vacation, seeing my favorite bands live, ect.  It is looking at these posts that have some researchers and communication scholars developing a new condition called Facebook Depression.

The School of Medicine at the University in Pittsburgh conducted a study that found, “participants that use social media very frequently have 2.7 times the likelihood of depression” (Chowdhry, 2016).  The implied idea that Facebook usage might cause depression is a dubious one.  It is possible that the increase of depression is subjects is cause by Facebook.  It is not also possible that depressed individuals use Facebook more often?

The University of Michigan tackled this question in 2013 with a study “which concluded that the more people used Facebook during one time period, the more their happiness declined” (Chowdhry, 2016).  However both studies use quantitative data to come to these conclusions.  You could argue that these findings are based on a shaky assumption that Facebook is used equal amounts by depressed individuals as non-depressed individuals.  Unfortunately, for researchers and scholars, quantitative data only answers the questions of how many or how often.  Qualitative data is the only way to answer the question of why; however, qualitative data relies on answers from the participants whom may lie or exaggerate.

The Forbes article by Amit Chowdhry shared a sentiment that I would like to echo:

“What should you do if heavy social media is causing you to feel more depressed? It is highly recommended that you work with a mental health professional. And you should limit your social media screen time every day in favor of other activities” (Chowdhry, 2016).  No matter what I believe or anyone else, seek help if you believe something is causing depression in your life.

My opinion time!  I am not all on board with this theory.  The limit to what the data actually establishes, is heck of an Achilles heel.  Without full knowledge of why people are depressed online, it is hard to say Facebook itself cause the Depression.

 

References:

Chowdhry, A. (2016, August 30). Facebook Depression or Depression & Facebook? Retrieved April 2, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2016/04/30/study-links-heavy-facebook-and-social-media-usage-to-depression/2/#51350a967786

 

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Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism