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Social Media Makes You See Problems Where There Are None

Social media has trained us to search for problems, in our lives and ourselves, where none exist. And unfortunately, this is a perfect storm for causing serious depression. Here's how to be mindful of that.
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Frustrated woman using tablet
grinvalds via Getty Images
Frustrated woman using tablet

In this post, I'm going to share with you a scary but controllable way that social media is souring your mood, and what you can do about it.

Now let's focus on social media as a problem-generating machine.

Social media creates the illusion that your life is riddled with problems.

Western culture is obsessed with labelling everything as a problem.

Our system for medical diagnosis and treatment disease is based on finding problems.

Turn on any "fix it" reality show, daytime talk show, news program or just about anything you view on a screen. You'll witness people obsessed with making changes to problems.

Even the pursuit of happiness in American culture is intimately tied to overcoming problems.

The problem with being brainwashed to search for problems is that it convinces you that you're not supposed to struggle.

This mentality opposes self-acceptance and leads you to believe that suffering shouldn't be a part of life.

In fact, this forced focus on labelling everything as a problem leads people to avoid problems.

Add the perfectionistic ideals transmitted via social media to the cultural push to see everything as a problem and you have the perfect storm for depression.

Why is this the ultimate formula for depression?

Because if you're constantly comparing your current reality to an unattainable, perfectionistic standard, then you're going to find a lot of problems!

Think of how many times a day you label something as a problem. If you hunt for problems, you will create problems.

Wow, look how skinny she is in her bikini. My body is a problem.

Look how happy they look together on vacation. My relationship is not like theirs. It's a problem.

I should feel happy today. It's a problem.

A problem-focused mentality promotes depression, shame, guilt and powerlessness, which obstruct your ability to make changes to correct what you consider a problem.

What's the solution?

  • Challenge yourself to stop using the word "problem." You'll promote greater self-acceptance and less shame.
  • Accept the imperfect nature of your physical being and your life in general. Pay very close attention to the way you feel when you visit Instagram or Facebook. The observing self I referred to earlier will allow you to question why you're suddenly preoccupied with your imperfections after seeing "perfect" people their lifestyles in pictures.
  • Switch "problems" to "challenges"to give yourself a sense of personal control and hope. Challenges also promote the practice of searching for the lessons learned after the threat of the challenge is reduced.

Perfectionistic Standards + Problem Seeking = Holy shit! I am so depressed.

It doesn't have to be this way if you can begin to accept that perfection is unattainable.

If you stop labelling everything as a problem, you'll feel more empowered to do something about the things you actually can change.

At a minimum, be choosy with what you verbalize to be a problem.

Depression is a part of everyday life and it exists in varying degrees. It's not a binary decision of whether you're depressed or not.

When depression makes it hard to function, work with it rather than against it.

Fighting depression begins with acceptance of what is as a starting point.

Please share your thoughts, opinions and experiences below. This post is intended to open a much-needed discussion.

This post was originally published on Techealthiest. Dr. Greg Kushnick is an innovative clinical psychologist who blogs about how to live healthy with your technology.

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