Have you ever found yourself sitting on your phone, scrolling and scrolling to no end, becoming a little more overwhelmed and anxious with each movement of your thumb? We’ve likely all experienced the frankly strange and seemingly misplaced sense of misery when we’ve been looking at our friend’s holiday photos, scouring our favourite blogs, or sneakily checking back to see how many likes our latest photo has received.
The internet is a weird place, but the feeling of depression that seems to be synonymous with it for so many people baffles me even more!
It seriously concerns me that so much of our happiness rests in the hands of the vast, exponentially growing and seemingly uncensored, online world. It seems that although there’s a big presence of positive communities, exciting blogs, funny social media accounts, and riveting informational platforms that can all boost moods and benefit people’s lives, most people find that being online actually significantly lowers their mood, or genuinely makes them feel depressed.
So, if you feel blue when you’re supposed to be feeling grateful to have such a wonderful availability of technology (thank you older generation for drilling in this sense of guilt for not appreciating the internet), it’s important to know that you’re not the only one, there are reasons behind why you feel like this, and there are things you can actually do about it.
5 Possible Reasons Why The Internet Is Making You Depressed
#1 FOMO (it’s more real than you think)
Ok, maybe this one isn’t applicable right now seeing as none of us are doing anything that exciting, but one of the reasons that the internet could be making you depressed is because you feel like you’re always missing out on things. FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is enhanced so much by social media because you’re constantly seeing the things that you’re missing out on. For example, if your friends are on a night out but you declined to go, you’ll then log on to social media and see photos of them having a great time, leaving you feeling like you’re missing out, and causing you to feel miserable.
#2 Constant Comparison
Whether we think it or not, we are constantly comparing ourselves and our lives to what we see online. This constant comparison isn’t healthy because we start to think that we’re not good enough, that our car isn’t fancy enough, our home not luxurious enough, our work not glamorous enough, and our lives not fulfilled enough. Essentially, when we start to compare ourselves our self-esteem, self-confidence, and love for the lifestyle we have really take a hit, leaving us feeling depressed.
#3 Overload of Information
The sheer overload of information we experience every day by being online can feel overwhelming, muddle up our minds, and even make us feel insignificant! Being able to hop online wherever and whenever we want to has only really become a reality in the last two decades, and humans simply don’t evolve that fast -our minds cannot keep up and we end up feeling overwhelmed by the mass of information out there. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, tiredness, and irritability.
#4 There’s Too Much Negativity
There’s so much negative content out there and without you even realizing it, if you’re spending time online without engaging consciously with what you’re searching, you’re probably consuming it. Have you ever found yourself scrolling and scrolling through stories that make you feel miserable? Or perhaps the first thing you do when you wake up is to check the news (which is almost always negative)? If you’re spending time online looking at depressing things then obviously you yourself will become depressed -you are a product of the environment you create and what you choose to surround yourself with!
#5 It’s Ruining Your Sleep We all probably spend way too much time sat in bed binge-watching our favourite show until the early hours of the morning, or checking our social media until our eyes can’t stay open anymore, and it’s this bedtime habit that could actually be making you depressed. Having enough deep sleep is essential to stay in your best possible state of wellbeing and health, and using technology at night can completely disrupt this from happening. The blue light emitted from your phone or laptop inhibits melatonin from being released, keeping you up later, reducing your quality of sleep and making you feel out of sync the next day. After a while, a lack of sleep and low sleep quality may result in depression.
Turning It All Around -What You Can Do About Internet Depression!
Ok, so now I’ve successfully made you panic and probably added to your internet-related depression (sorry about that), I’m going to bring you into the light and give you some tips that will help you get over your internet depression and improve your overall mood and wellbeing in day to day life!
#1 Stop Grabbing Your Phone First Thing
Reaching for your phone first thing in the morning is one of the worst habits that you probably have, and it will be the hardest one to stop, but it’s important that you do! By checking your phone straight away without even letting your eyes or mind wake up, you’re letting yourself be bombarded with all the news that has gone on since you last put your phone down. Your mind will go from 0-100 real quick, and you’ll be more focused on catching up with what you missed, rather than how you feel in yourself at the start of a new day.
#2 Stop Using Your Phone Before Bed
You should put down your phone at least an hour before you go to bed, to allow yourself to unwind after your day, without any distractions. The blue light emitted from your phone also inhibits the release of melatonin (the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle) and keeps you up! So, switch it off, do some reading or practice mindfulness, and get ready for a good nights sleep.
#3 Limit Your Time Online
The obvious thing to do when the internet is negatively affecting your mood is to spend less time on it, so, try to do that! You can limit your time on certain apps using the ‘Time Limit’ setting on most phones, you can decide to only use your phone during certain hours, or you might decide to not have any phones in the bedroom. Make some changes and create some rules that will actively limit the time you spend online.
#4 Realize That Most People Don’t Share The Bad Bits On Social Media
Social media can be a huge problem because it’s where most people share the best bits about their lives. Therefore, since most people don’t show up authentically on social media, people’s accounts show idyllic lifestyles that aren’t real. Others then beg into feel jealous of these people’s lives and compare themselves, which then affects their self-esteem and confidence. However, these people are letting themselves get upset about something that’s not even real! So, as long as you are aware that people don’t tend to share the bad bits of their life or show up authentically on social media, you can cut-free from the shackles of jealousy and comparison and go out and live your life!
#5 Look To The Good, Not The Bad
It’s completely up to us what we subject ourselves to online, and what we see online obviously affects the way that we feel, so the simple answer is to stop looking at negative things. Stop looking at the news as soon as you wake up, stop looking at your ex’s social media, unfollow the person that makes you feel bad about yourself -unless it makes you happy or benefits your life in some way (which I’m hoping this article has!) stop subjecting yourself to it!
Look Out For Yourself Online
If you’re feeling depressed by the internet, (and we’ve all been there, most definitely during this pandemic), it’s time to change that! Use the internet well, consciously choose what you’re looking at, block the things that don’t make you happy or benefit your life, look to the positivity of the online world and sometimes, step away from it altogether for a little while and indulge in some real-life experiences.