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Do you have a case of social media depression?

Commentator Beth Teitell on how social media "friends" erode confidence with sunny status updates and photos of perfect children.

Oscar Wilde once said that a true friend is someone who stabs you in the front. I'd like to update that. These days, a true friend is one who doesn't post a picture of your double chin on Facebook. She always "likes" your status updates, even when they're annoying. She re-tweets your tweets to her thousands of Twitter followers, so your Klout score doesn't fall.
 
We'd all love a pal like that, wouldn't we? But who has time to think of others when we've got our own online personas to curate?

Happy and successful people have always made the miserable feel more miserable. But the upbeat used to have fewer platforms. They struck mainly in person, and could only deflate one victim at a time.

You were in the most danger at weddings or reunions, where the happy would make you feel lousy about your kitchen or children or lackluster volunteer activities. But before social media -- at least you had time to prepare. You could diet. Inflate your own resume. Not go.
 
Sure, we could step away from our screens. But we just can't. So we carry our phones with us and check in constantly, lest we miss the news of someone's promotion or Nantucket vacation. And every update makes us feel worse. It's like a morphine drip, only in reverse. Gimme another hit.
 
So what can we do? I propose a Fairness in Personal Branding Act: For example: Every time you post a photo of your family enjoying themselves on a posh island, you must include a disclaimer -- "paying for the hotel has caused marital discord," perhaps, "or this is the only time little Jaydon wasn't pouting."
 
But until we all agree to disarm, I'm going to go on the offensive. Tomorrow I'm going to bake organic cookies with my Harvard-bound children, which we're going to eat on our sun-dappled porch after we've saved a wounded bird, cured a disease and donated money to people in a struggling nation.

All while tweeting and uploading photos, of course. Friends -- consider yourselves warned.

About the author

Beth Teitell writes for the Boston Globe. Her most recent book is called "Drinking Problems at the Fountain of Youth."
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Social Media sites are meant for interacting with people, extending your connections and learn something new. I don't think there is anything that causes depression. These are just for knowing people more closely and establish relationship with them and there is nothing to be so serious about it.

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"Sure, we could step away from our screens. But we just can't. So we carry our phones with us and check in constantly."

Actually this is silly. After too many years, 900 "friends," and some borderline addictive behavior, I deleted my facebook account four months ago and have had ZERO withdrawal symptoms, and have never looked back. I've had more time and a better daily life. THERE IS LIFE AFTER FACEBOOK. It's not even that difficult. Also, at the major state university where I teach, the most interesting, intelligent, and impressively individualist students (admittedly a small number) have been decisive in not being on facebook. This has been true for several years.

What IS this "Facebook" the kids keep talking about?

As an IT professional, I surprise people because I don't own a smartphone, and I'm not on Facebook. I miss the days when people would reliably respond to email within a few hours, but I refuse to accept the devaluation of the terms "friend" and "share", and prefer my few close friends to a legion of electronic aquaintances.

Wow I must be ridiculously well adjusted. I don't get jealous or envious of friends when I read their posts and see their photos. I'm happy for their success and happiness and I cry for them when they suffer a loss or are going through a hard time. If Facebook and Twitter make you feel depressed I think you need to evaluate your mental health and work on improving yourself

I don't need the phenomena of social media to feel melancholy as that is my usual state, thank you!!
(Eeyore was one of my favorite a.a. milne characters)
I am actually glad that I don't use it.

I wouldn't call it "depression," but I certainly suffer from Facebook envy. I work in education, as do most of my friends. So when I see them post photos of their exotic and extravagant vacations, I get a little jealous. I want to travel, too! It takes a lot of energy to remind myself that these trips almost certainly are financed through credit card debt, which I am unwilling to entertain.

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