I’ve been reading a lot about how the Facebook highlight reel may be causing depression. Well, I just want all of you to know that your Facebook highlight reel does not depress me. I kind of like it. No, I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because I love pictures of kids, babies, cats, dogs, job promotions, and all of the tiny successes my friends have on a daily basis. That stuff makes me smile. When I see new haircuts and posts about people doing kind things and someone winning an award for being awesome I actually cheer and show the pictures and statuses to my husband. Call me a little sappy or a little nutty, but I like seeing good things happen to good people. I like seeing the way they are devoted to their families and how the extra effort they are putting into their work is finally paying off. I like to see them going on spectacular and exotic vacations.
I’m not saying Facebook doesn’t depress me because it does. Just for very different reasons than the researchers are suggesting. When I see the same article, five times in five minutes, about a couple who let their baby starve to death in his crib it makes me sad and angry and outraged. When I see people posting racist memes or really mean-spirited, untrue political attacks on our politicians I feel a little agitated. When I see people being mean and cruel or sometimes just plain ignorant…I feel a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to scream, “Do your research first!” or “Stop being such a bully!”
These are people I care about and they are saying things that are just terrible. It’s especially hard when it is a family member because for some reason that makes me feel even more sad. I think, wow, when did my family member get so mean? Or angry? Or bitter? I mean, sometimes on Facebook and other social media, you get to know a side of people you didn’t know existed. Or maybe just didn’t want to know existed. You find yourself worrying about people. You wonder about their mental health. You start to feel helpless or even a little hopeless about the world you live in. Sometimes what people post changes your opinion of them. Don’t even get me started on the people who like to rant and rave all day long. I’ve had to hide them from my feed. I can’t take that level of hostility for prolonged periods. That does depress me. It’s like being washed in a wave of negativity for hours at a time. That is not an enjoyable experience. Once I started figuring out how to hide posts from my Facebook feed I found myself having way more fun on Facebook. I mean, who wants to pop on Facebook and see someone screaming about how they wished the U.S. would have public hangings before you’ve even had breakfast? That’s not how I want to start my day. I’d rather wake up to posts about kittens. Let me work up to murder, politics, and people who want to set other people on fire after I have had my coffee.
I really get overwhelmed by sadness when I see people getting attacked in comment sections too. This happens daily. People are so rude sometimes. If they aren’t calling people names they are mocking them. You start to wonder what happened to having manners or polite disagreements or treating your friends, well, like friends. What ever happened to formulating well thought out arguments? Do people even know how to do that anymore? Or not agreeing with everything someone says or believes, but still respecting them or loving them anyway? On Facebook it’s so often one angry mob yelling at another angry mob. I think social media has replaced pitchforks and torches. Witnessing that on a daily basis can be kind of depressing. You start to realize how cruel the average person can be and that makes you lose faith in humanity.
What restores my faith in humanity? Your Facebook highlight reel. So please, show me your kindergartener’s first day of school and the picture you took with Justin Bateman. Brag about the concert you went to last night or about how you spent Thanksgiving feeding the homeless. Share stories about men stopping other men from harassing women and stories about dogs adopting orphaned kittens. I want to see your son grow up and get a full scholarship to college. I want to see you get your first book published. I want to know when your daughter’s volleyball team won the state championship. I want to see all of those good things. Every single one of them. Your Facebook highlight reel does not depress me. On the contrary, it’s the only reason I am on Facebook at all!