Is Technology Really Making Us Depressed?
Certainly technology has made it more difficult to overlook things you’d rather not see – your ex’s engagement photos, sad human interest news pieces, pictures of puppies that need adopting, and the like. But is it just the content we see on social media, or is general technology use making us more depressed? As it turns it, it might be. Here’s what’s going on.
When it comes to the social media side of everything, there’s one factor above all else that experts think is driving depression in tech users, something they’re calling social comparison. Social comparison, itself, isn’t particularly new or groundbreaking, but the rate at which we’re able to do it is.
The more we’re connected on social media, the more we’re able to compare our own lives, full of the regular ups and downs that every human experiences, with the highlight reels our social connections put forward online. If all you’re looking at is vacation photos from 20 different people when you have to work, you’re going to feel a lot more excluded from the happy times than if just one friend is showing you snapshots from the first trip they’ve been able to take in five years.
To that end, social media is psychologically tricking us into thinking that we are less clever, capable, worthy, or enjoyable than those with whom we surround ourselves, and that’s starting to manifest in some not so desirable ways.
There’s another issue with technology, and while it still has to do with how we interact with others, this time it’s not about how we see ourselves. 24/7 tech connection means that there is less time for people to prioritize and contextualize what they’re doing.
The days of being able to leave your job at your office are gone, and when you’re being inundated with texts, calls, and emails relating to stressful priorities such as your job, the stress continues to build and leaves little room for enjoyment or satisfaction.
Remember the days when you could go home after a hard day at work, kick off your shoes, and relax knowing you did a good job? They’re long gone, replaced instead by work and information overload. Personal interaction and business relationships have declined in the wake, and people are starting to feel less connected to the work they do, but more pressure to do it fast and do it right, even if they’re off the clock. It doesn’t take much from there to push someone from a point of high stress to a point of depression.
There’s nothing inherent in the screen or on the keys that makes us depressed, but the ways in which we’re using technology sure are contributing to a more stress, less jovial user base overall. Whether the attitudes about what we see change or when and how often we access the content, itself, changes, something has to give if we want tech to remain a positive tool rather than a dark obsession in the lives of the average user.