Facebook causes depression

Do you ever feel depressed after scrolling down your Facebook-timeline for the fourth time in 2 minutes during an uninteresting lecture? (Not an Information Strategy lecture of course). Anyway, you are certainly not the only one with such a feeling. We all have those ‘friends’ on Facebook who are for the third time in two weeks on vacation and definitely do not have any doubts to share these lovely moments by posting all the nice pictures of these trips (including the food pictures). Or have you ever felt jealous after scrolling down on your timeline and seeing that everyone has great times with their loved ones, while you are sitting on the couch and watching some Netflix on your own with a pizza and a beer? You are again certainly not the only one with this feeling.

A majority of the Facebook users post something that looks more beautiful than it really is in reality. This can also happen unconsciously, however, do not forget that a bulky part of the posts give a false picture of the reality. On the other hand, who wants to post some boring stuff where no one is waiting for? Better make something beautiful of it and receive some more likes. Everything for the likes!

However, can Facebook really cause depressions? Not so much that, but it can certainly cause depressed or worse feelings. A new study finds not only a link between Facebook and despressive symptoms, there is also a link between Facebook and the well-established psychological phenomenon ‘Social comparison.’ This is the cause of the depressive symptoms, as you are comparing your ‘normal life’ to the extremely happy posts on your timeline. A study from University of Houston shows that people who used Facebook are tended to have more depressive symptoms.

I am not telling you to immediately delete your Facebook account, I am telling you to be aware of this phenomenon and do not take all the ‘happy’ Facebook posts too seriously. As the Dutch saying goes: ‘Neem het met een korreltje zout.’ (Take it with a grain of salt.)

Enjoy this video and think about it. Is this the truth?

Author: Jesse van Hofwegen (375283jh)


Walton,  A. G., (2015). New Study Links Facebook To Depression: But Now We Actually Understand Why. [online] Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/04/08/new-study-links-facebook-to-depression-but-now-we-actually-understand-why/ [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].

Sorokanich, R. (2014). This is why you shouldn’t take people’s Facebook lives seriously. [online] Sploid. Available at: http://sploid.gizmodo.com/this-is-why-you-shouldnt-take-peoples-lives-in-facebook-1595563358 [Accessed 11 Oct. 2015].


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7 responses to “Facebook causes depression”

  1. 349430am says :

    I found your post very interesting to read. Most people are using Facebook daily, but they are not aware of the negative effects on their life or well being.

    I would like to add a bit to your post, which I think is also interesting to know if you go more deeper in the research:
    In the study from the University of Houston social comparison was found as a mediating factor. This can be explained from an earlier face-to-face research done about social comparison by the University of Houston. In the research they found the following results: when people compare themselves with someone who is more popular or attractive, they are more likely to feel worse (upward social comparison). And the opposite, when people compare themselves with someone that is less popular or attractive, they feel better (downward social comparison).
    But for Facebook it is remarkable for its users it did not matter if they made a downward or upward (or neutral) social comparison. They had depressive symptoms anyway.


  2. 348165dk says :

    Hi Jesse, very interesting to read about something I think almost everybody does, which is refreshing Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or other social media way too often. However, I do have one small thing on my mind. Because I would be lying if I told you I don’t envy some of my Facebook friends when they travel the world or something like that, but I think I am not alone when I notice the people whom post stuff just for the sake of attention. For instance, the “friends” that tell their entire following what they have had for breakfast, how full their train was, and why the sun is shining today. And then you will have a couple of extreme ones that try to write all their negative energy onto their timeline. So it might actually be a nice idea for the researchers to take a look at it the other way around, so to look into this kind of Facebook user, and to investigate whether seeking attention on social media might actually help the depressed or to put it more mildly, negative people, to get a better perspective on things and might even feel better afterwards.

  3. 347379fz says :

    The problem you adres is partly caused by a vicious circle. The negative effects of social media causing depression can result in a ‘Smiling Depression’. This form of depressions means we appear to be happy, smiling and positive, but in reality we are miserable. We try to be seen as the idealized version of ourselves, but this is accompanied by high pressure. With social media we can show others what we want them to see. Someone can focus on the key things in their lives, highlighting the positive and hiding the negative.
    Apparently there is a way we can handle this. In stead of loggin off all our Facebook, Instagram and other account, we need to change the way we approach this perfection of others. According to psychotherapist Daniela Tempesta we need to focus our energy on ourselves. She states “The art of what makes life awesome and interesting is learning from the talents of others. Instead of trying to be as good as or better than others, focus your energy on being the very best version of yourself.”

  4. minkehuizenga says :

    Adding to the comment of 348165dk, I understand your perspective very well. I also think that the negative newsfeed clutter leads to frustration of Facebook users, as people just get fed up with the constant negative news from the same person. I also think that that is exactly the reason why so many people have asked Facebook to add a dislike button.

    However, Facebook just decided to not add this button, but to provide us with a small selection of emoji’s as an addition to the like button. If these emoji’s become permanently integrated into Facebook, it would provide researchers with an interesting research opportunity. This is because Facebook users will be able to distinguish between different types of sentiment (the emoji’s) instead of only being able to like a post or picture. Researchers could than analyse the social comparison effect into much more detail, as the data they can work with is also a lot more detailed.

  5. 360681vn says :

    Very interesting post by jessevanhofwegen. It greatly emphasis the message of not believe everything you see in a picture. It can truly be overrated. Also the video shows a clear, but very sad, picture of how reality can be different from the short message/post you put on FB.

    In reply to the message of minkehuizenga I’ve also red that Facebook will not implement a ‘disllike’ button. Instead an option of different sentiments of emoji’s will be integrated into Facebook. This captured my intention in why we actually use emoji’s or emoticons. I have found a very interesting blog online. Here they provide seven scientifically supported reasons why we use emoticons. The article directly put in the link to the complete scientific researches.

    Summarized, the seven reasons are;
    1. They make you more popular on social media
    2. We react to them like we would real human face
    3. They’re OK even in business settings!
    4. They soften the blow of a critique
    5. They make you appear more friendly and competent
    6. They create a happier workplace
    7. They correlate with real-life happiness

    You can find the blog at;

    Enjoy reading!

  6. 358455ms says :

    I totally agree with the fact that Facebook can be an important influence to your mood. I think, another interesting factor might contribute to those negative feelings. It is not only about what you see on your timeline, but also how much time you spend checking this information. Personally, I spend quite some time on Facebook and Instagram, most of the times for no particular reason. I feel like this purposeless-activity on Facebook, does not influence my mood in a positive way but corresponds more to an addiction-like feeling. The addiction to social media is something that has definitely changed over the past few years and is something that can influence individuals as well as business environments completely.

  7. victorvink says :

    Interesting read about a negative aspect of Facebook. While reading your post I could follow your feelings and also I would be lying not hating some of my friends who I feel like they can go on vacation any time they want. Traveling from South-America to a third world county contributing to a helping program, and on to a SE Asia trip. All of these things I have not done in my life and still looking to do so. However planning this in the current situation with study and work responsibilities it is hard to do the same. This may sometimes cause some depressing feelings.
    However on the other hand, it motivates me as well. Looking at the friends (mostly of my own age) who go on trips to the outer boundaries of the world, I sometimes turn the jealousy (I feel it results more in jealousy instead of depressing feelings) into eye-openers. That moment I face the fact that there are so much more possibilities in the world than just studying and working. It gives me some sort of motivation to expand my own boundaries and go on those trips. It shows me the possibilities of an average student who can do such things.
    Therefore I believe on the negative depressing aspect of Facebook, a motivator is attached to it, and it can broaden up the thoughts and eyes of some people staying safely at their houses and just live the life like an average normal man. It can motivate people to explore the world as well.

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