Why You Shouldn’t Be Depressed by Facebook

stressed businessman sleeping on a laptop

Lately I’ve been seeing articles about how some people find personal status updates on Facebook and other social media depressing. Apparently people put on their best “faces” so their lives seem better than yours.

Most of these articles aren’t written from a Christian perspective, so they ignore the fact that most of us ask for prayer through social media. Truly, this is a way to be genuine and to be supported and edified.

But what about those times when we don’t need prayer because of a major life crisis? My hope is — that’s most of the time!

So when there’s no crisis or drama, should we be depressed by other people’s blissful lives? I admit I’m a happy and grateful person but even on my worst day, I don’t find Facebook depressing. Why? Because I look at Facebook as a social gathering. Well, actually, a party.

Now, if you met me for the first time at a party and I was being totally honest, I might say, “Hi! I’m Tamela. I’m sure I’ll be glad I came to this party after it’s over but right now I’d really rather be home watching television with my husband. Wow, these heels felt really awesome in the store but now that I’m standing here, I realize the strap rubs my toes. I think I forgot to put a Band-Aid in my purse. Why don’t they ever have enough chairs at these things? I also hope I remembered to throw a tube of lipstick in my purse to freshen up after eating. Wish I hadn’t taken an egg roll. It’s cold and not as good as it looked. And it’s messy. Oh well. I don’t have lipstick on my teeth, do I? Oh, and how are you? And who are you? And why are you slowly backing away? Hello?”

Even if these were my thoughts, I’d be likely to say, “Hi! I’m Tamela. Tell me about yourself.”

Likewise, don’t you present yourself at your best on social media? After all, we all want people to know our best selves and most of us only let a few people see every dimension of our lives. To expect more from Facebook isn’t realistic. And probably not even healthy.

If you are finding Facebook and other social media to be too depressing, or perhaps just too overwhelming, take a break from the overall experience. In fact, you’ll be on trend, because lots of people are doing the same. But DO keep promoting your books, and DO keep in touch with your true friends, both on and off the Internet. Consider setting up a business page just for promotion, and a private Facebook loop for real friends. Or just call or email them individually.

Then when you’re ready to come back, enjoy the party!

Your turn:

Do you find social media overwhelming? Or do you think it’s fun?

Have you ever taken a break from social media? What happened?

What is your favorite social media platform?

What are some tips you can share to keep social media under control for yourself?

37 Responses to Why You Shouldn’t Be Depressed by Facebook

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton May 29, 2014 at 4:14 am #

    I also look at Facebook as a party. I want post happy and fun things. I pray when others post prayer requests, and I enjoy seeing the great things going on in their lives. I especially love vacation pictures! I also use Facebook as a tool to encourage others. I’m always amazed how far a kind word can go whether in person or on Facebook.

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    Jeanne Takenaka May 29, 2014 at 6:31 am #

    Great post, Tamela. I loved your “how real are we keeping it” example for how we portray ourselves on social media. I strive to be real, but not share the deeper parts of my life. At the same time, I want to be upbeat and positive. So, I don’t post many down days. Unless it’s a really bad Mama day, then I might say something like, “It’s an Australia day.” (from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day picture book). People who know the book understand the reference. I try to encourage on Facebook as well. And share prayer requests. Mostly, I see Facebook as a nice, quick way to get a glimpse into the lives of friends rather than a place to bare my soul and read what others have bared.

    I think my favorite social media platform is Facebook, though I do participate in a few others as well. I find it easiest to connect with other people there.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

      Jeanne, I know other moms appreciate those “bad Mama” posts. I’m an empty nester now but remember well the good and frustrating times when my girls were little. The good always outweighs the “bad” though!

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    carol mcclain May 29, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    I love facebook–and I’m probably one of those people who depress you. I mostly post positive comments when something happens in my life. I don’t want the world to see me in a negative light. I have a harder time presenting the positive me in real life.

    Facebook keeps me connected with family and friends. Twitter and Google Plus are not fun because family and friends are not there. I use those for promotional purposes and reap the lack of responses because I don’t interact.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Carol, I had to get used to Twitter but now I love it. Google Plus isn’t a favorite yet. Perhaps one day I’ll enjoy it more, As you pointed out, not as many people seem to be on it.

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    Ellie Kay May 29, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    Loved the post and fresh perspective! I would want you to come to my party because you are so encouraging and optimistic. I enjoyed meeting you in person at FCWC! It’s important to look at social media as a tool that we can use as we pursue the purpose God has for our lives. I try to neither give SM more place in my life and work than it deserves, or less, so that I can be a good steward of my time and energy. Giving you a big virtual hug, Tamela, from sunny Cali.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      Hugging you back, Ellie Kay! I’d love to go to your party — any event you host would totally ROCK!

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    Thomas Allbaugh May 29, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Thanks for the advice to stay in touch with friends. That is great advice and the main good reason for staying on Facebook. Otherwise, especially when the posts I see are political, Facebook seems like another “text” that are “interpreted” based only on the selected images and words given. I’ve found myself being “interpreted” in wrong ways and I’ve done the same. So I try to remind myself that it is very selective, though Facebook has helped to improve my relationships with people I see in “real time” and stay in touch with my kids when they were going to school or in other parts of the country or world.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      Thomas, you are so right that no matter what you post, someone may misinterpret your words. I am selective about what I post. However, since I’ve been on Facebook for years now, I think my Facebook friends already have a sense of who I am and will understand that I have a positive spirit in my posts. And you have a good point about keeping up with your kids in other countries. I communicate with my daughter in South Korea through Facebook often.

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    Angela Breidenbach May 29, 2014 at 7:25 am #

    I have fun with social media because a long time ago I determined it was a place to entertain and encourage others. Then #Muse, my feline investigative reporter, joined me. My fun factor went up. I just have fun making people laugh. Personal stuff is more highlight moments or unusual happenings because it’s more like news. No one cares about boring blow-by-blow. So I just put on social media things to uplift someone else or share a milestone moment.

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    Andra Marquardt May 29, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    I’m a wall flower even on Facebook. I mostly peruse through it for 10-15 minutes a day — if that — to see what friends and family are doing. I may comment, but I most often “Like” their post to let them know I read what they wrote. Unless, of course they need some kind of encouragement or if I think the post is particulary interesting.

    What bothers me most about Facebook and has forced me to give it up for weeks at a time is when people post horrific pictures and/or videos of people and/or animals being harmed — even killed. Really? How different is that from posting pornography? I don’t need to see that. Don’t those people realize children are on Facebook, too?

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      Andra, I don’t understand why anyone would post awful videos, either. Perhaps you may be able to “hide” a person’s posts when he or she is a frequent violator. I think there’s a way to do that, but I’m not sure how. Perhaps one of my other readers will know. This may be a way to avoid the videos without confronting or unfriending someone. Just a thought.

      • Avatar
        Mary June 4, 2014 at 9:56 am #

        It’s easy to control what you see on Facebook. Well… “easy” might not be the right word, but it’s relatively painless. When you see something horrific, you can hover your mouse at the upper right corner of the post – there will be a little icon you can click. It gives you the option of “I don’t want to see this,” and “hide all posts by ….” Pick “hide all posts by…” but make sure it doesn’t have your friend’s name. It SHOULD have the name of the original poster.

        Facebook will then tell you that you will no longer see posts by whomever, and ask you WHY. If you click the WHY option, you can label it as spam, offensive, etc.

        Another option is to unfollow your friend – you probably don’t want to do that, but you CAN limit what you see from them. Instead of following ALL their posts, you can choose to only see major happenings, and things like that. That will hide their game postings, for instance, and most of the things that they share. You can always go to their timeline and see that stuff, if you miss it.

        There are lots of ways to control what you see on facebook – these are two of the easiest.

  8. Avatar
    Alice J. Wisler May 29, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    What a great post! Thanks!

    I am going through a super-rough wilderness/lacking/sorrowful journey in my life now and yes, Facebook can be too happy for me! However, I know that life isn’t easy and often a struggle for many, so the “happy” posts aren’t all there is to most people’s lives. I see it as it’s just that they choose to post only the positive. Just like at a party–you show your best side. Through Facebook I have been able to privately message others who are also struggling (especially those who have had a child die as I have) and we have prayed for each other and developed closer “let’s be real” friendships. For that reason, I’m grateful for Facebook.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      Alice, thanks for sharing about how valuable Facebook can be. I am so sorry about your loss. I pray that you will sense God’s tender hand upon you all the days of your life.

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    Wendy Macdonald May 29, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Tamela, my favorite Facebook friends are the ones that show a balance of the good and bad times (without getting too personal). If I ever meet you at a party and you mention your sore feet, I won’t back away. But if someone is all gloom and doom then I’d get overwhelmed and want to ‘block’ them.

    I combat jealousy by choosing to rejoice with those who rejoice. Then I purposely go over a list of things (in my mind) of all the blessings I have to be thankful for. God is good–even in our valley times.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  10. Avatar
    Scoti Springfield Domeij May 29, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Sometimes I think depression comes from what my mother calls “envy.” Other’s lives seem so much richer, easier, fulfilling, rewarding, successful or more fun than mine. But the truth is–no one escapes some kind of struggle in life. I feel honored to pray for others who ask for prayer.

    A little over two years ago my Army Ranger son was killed in Afghanistan on his 14th deployment and I received 100’s of emails and phone calls from concerned individuals. The shock and grief made it too exhausting to respond to each person. I could barely breath, much less talk, but I could write. So Facebook became my communication outlet to let people know what was going on and how I was doing. Overtime, Facebook has been an avenue to be honest about grief, encourage others who lost a child, and educate people regarding the journey.

    I’m in several Gold Star Family forums where family members can share their rawness and receive encouragement and prayer. At Christmas, I could not read the comments in the Gold Star Family forums, because their pain tapped into my pain, leaving me emotionally drained. So I took a break to manage what little emotional margin I’ve gained. Even though, I’m honest about the journey of mourning, I don’t post the really dark stuff. If I don’t post for a week or two, I’m in a dark place of processing.

    I enjoy connecting with friends from grade school through college through life. It’s been interesting to see how many of my childhood friends have become Christians. And how some of my Christians friends from long ago who are no longer believers. It’s been a real joy to see that children I mentored or they participated in ministries that I led are now serving the Lord and so are their children.

    I started CrossFit and I enjoy sharing my humorous take on a brutal exercise regime. I also found Facebook to be a way to express my faith with my friends and my son’s Army Ranger buddies who may not understand or may not even like anything related to religion a.k.a. a relationship with God.

    And sometimes when I need a burst of laughter to release stress, I find something hilarious on Facebook.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

      Scoti, I know words can only offer limited consolation but my gratitude to you and your family for your son’s sacrifice comes from the depths of my heart. My husband works for the Navy as a civilian and my daddy (now retired) was in the Army Signal Corps and later, the Virginia National Guard, during the decades he worked as a civilian for the Army so perhaps that gives you a sense of my deep respect and high regard for our military. Again, thank you, and may God continue to keep you in His loving care.

      You definitely captured the many facets of Facebook with your post. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Avatar
    RC Atchisson May 29, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    I enjoy Facebook, but it is no replacement for the Good Book. That being said, I like to see family and friends (old, new, and electronic) celebrate their accomplishments. It also allows for a spiritually gratifying environment from which to draw both inspiration and support…provided you choose and click wisely.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

      RC, I agree that Facebook doesn’t replace the Good Book but you’ll definitely find lots of Bible verses posted there! And yes, choose and click wisely. πŸ™‚

  12. Avatar
    Tanara McCauley May 29, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    I got a good laugh out of the party scenario :-). I view FB (my personal page) as a fun place. I’m still not quite sure what to make of my author page. Posting there requires mental acrobatics, other than linking to blog entries or copying the occasional clever Tweet I come up with. It can be a little daunting at times, trying to acquire a platform with no books for sell yet, but it can also be fun. Through social media I’ve met a number of people I never would have before, and I’ve laughed hard and often. Makes it worth it :-).

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 9:18 pm #

      Tanara, I think posting to your author page will become more natural to you as time progresses. Keep at it! Since you are having fun, no doubt your Facebook friends are, too! πŸ™‚

  13. Avatar
    Janet Ann Collins May 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    I joined Facebook a few years ago because it was supposed to help market my books. I have about 1300 “friends” but most of them are either other writers who want me to buy their books or people I already knew. However I enjoy it as a way of keeping in touch.

    I almost never post anything personal, such as my grandkids’ names or when I plan to be away from home. Maybe I’m paranoid, but better safe than sorry. However the other day I mentioned a personal disappointment and was overwhelmed by the number of sympathetic comments.

    • Avatar
      Tamela Hancock Murray May 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

      Janet Ann, like you, I usually post about events after they have happened. People understand when you say, “Wow, I just had a great week at the beach! Good to be back!” I don’t think anyone would believe it’s paranoid not to say, “I’m looking forward to packing up all my things and taking Josie, Archie, and Billy to Hawaii for two weeks. I’ll be back on the third of next month!” You sound to me as though you are using good old common sense. πŸ™‚

  14. Avatar
    j south May 29, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Facebook is superficial,artificial, and me-oriented. Are there exceptions?, of Yes of course,but the REALITY of Facebook is a disappointment ( the CONCEPT of Facebook is grand and COULD have resulted in a place where ppl were,simply,real with each other,with the common goal of furthering effective good in this world). I don’t attend snap-happy party scenes where attendees are quipping on and on about self. Boring. For example,the 20year old daughter of my grammar school classmate posts endless photos of herself and boyfriend on her facebook page. 100’s. Selfies,eh? Boring. I am sure there are niches in Facebook where ppl are sharing their walks with trite endless “likes”, etc etc., and ch allenges and the succeses,the reachiout to comfort and help others, including discussing how well they’re doing on their God-given life plans- but i haven’t seen it. I use Facebook 2 or 3 times a year to catch up with classmates,primarily via photos bec what they write is mostly pretense or wishful thinking. For example, my 25+ years friend who posted family vacation photos making it look beyond ideal, when in reality all participants went home bitterly angry at one another. Instead, i read AND WRITE good fiction. Instead of commending Facebook, how about critically reviewing it? And, if ppl get depressed over Facebook selfcentered self aggrandizing– well, that’d be a normal sadness to witnessing so many lies and deceptions clustered together in one place. I have to vote, in general, UGH.

    • Avatar
      j south May 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

      Please forgive errors in my post. Could not preview or edit. I meant to write, iam sure there are niches at Facebook where ppl are sharing their walks with Jesus, the challenges and succeses….

  15. Avatar
    Tamela Hancock Murray May 30, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    No worries about any typos.

    I somehow feel you’re not a huge fan of “I had a great time in Paris this year” Christmas newsletters, either. πŸ™‚

    I’m glad you are reading and writing good fiction. The world needs you. I also appreciate you for being a reader of this blog and for commenting on my post. You have honored me by considering my post worth your time. Thank you.

    Facebook is annoying, thrilling, bragging, heartbreaking, charming, self-absorbed, wonderful, exasperating, enchanting, frustrating, exhilarating…a hot mess. Because it’s populated by humans.

    And as you know, authors need to have a presence on Facebook, so it’s a place I suggest you might want to get used to visiting more than a few times a year. I don’t know if you have set up an author page yet, but perhaps that would attract people to you who possess similar interests so you can interact with them. Or start posting even more updates on your Facebook profile that are other-centered. I have a feeling that the more you post things people love to read, the more interaction you will have. That may make you feel less bragged to and more engaged, and you will be setting an example about how Facebook should be.

    As for the 20 year old — well, she’s 20. Many of her peers probably post lots of selfies, too. Wouldn’t it be fun if all of us could be that young and beautiful again so we would love to post endless photos of ourselves. In my early years, God saw fit to bless me with Titus women in my mother and grandmothers and sent other fine women to me as well. I needed them, and I continue to love them all though some of them have since gone home to the Lord. Have you considered using Facebook as a way to begin a Titus woman relationship with this young woman? Your relationship can be merely one of a distant good example and inspiration, or the Lord may lead you to something deeper. Of course, I don’t know the rest of the details, so that is merely a thought. I hope you don’t mind me for sharing my heart.

    You seem to know the vacationers pretty well. Was the anger a fluke, or a symptom of deeper issues? Perhaps the Lord has stirred these emotions in you to point out that they are in need of your prayers. Perhaps He wants you to reach out especially to your hurting friend. Again, I don’t know. This is just my thought.

    You are obviously a woman who loves the Lord and I think Facebook could use your example. If you are not already friends with me on Facebook, please friend me. God bless you!

  16. Avatar
    Nora May 30, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    Facebook:

    Here’s my take on you. I’m tired of your political postings all the time. Agree with you or not, I’m just tired of seeing the same stuff over and over again especially the ones that DEMAND I take a stand. I pass on only those things that make me smile. Keep Grumpy Cat stuff coming…just don’t overdo it. He might get tired too.

    I really enjoy seeing how well my online writer friends are doing with their books. You can keep that up. I only wish I could afford to buy all the books. I’ll keep whispering prayers for prayer requests as I’ve posted my share I’m sure.

    I like to keep up with my friends and relatives. I’ve even gotten back in touch with relatives that I haven’t seen much of in years and years and years. So, keep the friends requests coming from people like that.

    Please stop sending me friends’ requests from people I only have 1 online friend in common with (if that).

    BTW, Facebook, if you don’t stop showing Top Stories on the newsfeed when I specifically asked you to show Recent Stories, I’m going to scream so loud that my friends who live very far away will hear me with clarity. Get me?

    That’s my venting for the day. Keep doing the LOL thing.

  17. Avatar
    j south May 30, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Thank you, Tamela, for your thoughtful reply….. On topic, i found two interesting online articles:

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140110-technologys-greatest-myth

  18. Avatar
    j south May 30, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Article 2:

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140206-is-facebook-bad-for-you

  19. Avatar
    Mary June 4, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve not read all the comments yet, but intend to. Meantime, I’ll just say that 1)I’ve been part of “social media” since AOL 1.5 (5 hours/month for $20, on a 14.4 dial-up modem). That’s where I first “met” Karen Ball, Gayle Roper, Dan Walsh, Bodie Thoene, Angie Hunt, Terri Blackstock, and even Steve Laube, among others. We had a great community there, back in the mid-90s.

    From there, I moved on to “newsgroups,” which were communities that you updated via email. One of them was an online support group for me. Newsgroups pre-dated things like Yahoo! and Yahoo! groups, although they’re similar. Some newsgroups go all the way back to Compuserve and Bulletin Board Services (BBS).

    Anyway….Facebook can be whatever you want it to be. You just have to configure it properly. You can choose how much you want to see of what others post, and who you want to see the things that you post. The recommendation to have both a business page and a personal page is fantastic advice. And on the personal page, limit the friends to… well… friends. Not internet strangers. Facecrooks.com is a fantastic resource for learning how to configure facebook to only show you what you want to see.

    You can build lists on facebook and sort your “friends” into different categories. That will help control what you see.

    You can even build your own private group (called a “closed” group) where anything posted can only be seen by other group members. I belong to one such group for survivors of sexual abuse (childhood or otherwise) — it’s a fantastic support option for us, and more importantly, it’s SAFE. We know that no one else can see what we share, so we are free to be honest, even about the dark times.

    My sister belongs to a facebook support group for fibromyalgia. If we looked, we could probably even find a facebook support group for folks who hate Christianese. πŸ˜‰

    When it was time for my graduating class’s 35th high school reunion, we created a facebook page for it, and did all our planning there. And when a classmate was dying of ALS, her husband created a facebook page where we could share memories and encouragement with her. She was reading that page up to the very end. **pauses to blink back tears**

    Facebook transcends the boundaries of time and distance. It will be as real as you let it be. I have never limited myself to only posting happy things, but I don’t post all the details of my PTSD times because the world doesn’t need to know that. I save that for the closed group that I mentioned earlier, or private messages to trusted friends, and for my therapist.

    What astounds me are the people who post every detail of their life on facebook, including when they’re away from home on vacation. That’s just like saying “Calling all thieves! Here’s a vulnerable location you can rob!” *rolls eyes*

    It’s a fine line to walk between sharing too much and not sharing enough. Twitter is the same way (do we REALLY care about what you had for breakfast?), but so is blogging. And so is writing, honestly. For every 5 pages in a book, there are probably 10 that didn’t get included.

    Wow, I’ve been rambling right along… but Social Media, in whatever incarnation, has been a huge part of my life for twenty years now, and I can’t imagine life without it.

  20. Avatar
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