Yet another study has emerged, confirming a link between Facebook usage and depression. This time, the University of Michigan observed 82 participants and found that, the more the subject used Facebook, the more they experienced feelings of isolation, jealousy, and depression. Although 82 participants is a small amount, this study comes from a long line of other similar ones that have come up with near the same results.
Facebook users become depressed after seeing pictures of their “friends” dating, marrying, having children, hanging out with other friends, traveling, and generally doing fun and interesting activities. Naturally, the Facebook user is behind a computer or on their phone not participating in the same fun events.
Facebook is the social networking website of choice for these studies because it is the most popular (1.1 billion users means that 1/7 of the entire world is on Facebook). Currently, Facebook also has the broadest audience. Only a few studies and surveys have been done on other social networking platforms, such as Twitter.
Pinterest, the social pin board site, thrives off of “mommy bloggers” and sharing content that would improve users’ lives. Clothing, organization tips, dream houses, cute pictures of children, and impressive meals are all staples of Pinterest. In fact, if it’s not cute, it probably doesn’t belong.
Can this type of content make Pinterest users depressed? One survey conducted by TODAY found that 42% of 7,000 moms suffer from “Pinterest stress” or feelings of inadequacy after using Pinterest for extended periods of time. Currently, 80% of Pinterest users are women, and 50% have children. It makes sense for a survey to concentrate on moms when tabulating Pinterest stress. But does Pinterest make moms depressed the same way Facebook can?
Pinterest users are constantly advised to make their pins as beautiful as possible. Many of them use professional cameras and photoshop to improve the quality of their images. Blogs that are shared are similarly polished and appealing. Almost everything on Pinterest is an image of something the user does not have: exotic locations, wedding planning, and, essentially, a perfectly organized and clean life. If Facebook users are jealous of their friends, Pinterest users don’t stand a chance against the strangers with seemingly perfect lives. This is especially true for many mothers – with so many responsibilities, how can they also keep a constantly clean home? Or make decorations out of old wine bottles? Pinterest creates an unobtainable ideal that users just cannot reach.
Although Pinterest presents an idea of perfection through blogs and pictures, there is more distance between the user and what he or she sees on the screen. Facebook shows real people that you know supposedly having better lives than you. Pinterest shows strangers putting forth the best of their lives. Pinterest users understand that the images they see have taken a lot of work to appear perfect. Bloggers make their income off of the work they write about, so naturally users will not have the same experiences as them. They also know that these strangers cannot have the ideal lives that they are selectively showing. Some moms may wonder if they’re doing enough compared to the other women on Pinterest, but others realize that this is not a realistic representation of pinners’ lives. For many, Pinterest is a great place to gain inspiration or advice, but they do not feel the pressure to apply every pin to themselves.
User’s friends use both of these social networks to reveal only a small window into their lives. The best way for a user to eliminate depression or “Pinterest stress” is to remember that not everything is as perfect or happy as it seems. Another idea is to use someone else’s experiences merely as inspiration, and not a measuring tool. If you see that your Facebook friend has gone to a fun event, resolve to go to another one.
What do you think? Does using Facebook or Pinterest make you depressed? Let us know!
Savastio, Rebecca. “Facebook Causes Depression New Study Says.” http://guardianlv.com/2013/08/facebook-causes-depression-new-study-says/. (19 August 2013).
Dube, Rebecca. “’Pinterest stress’ afflicts nearly half of moms, survey says.” http://www.today.com/moms/pinterest-stress-afflicts-nearly-half-moms-survey-says-1C9850275. (19 August 2013.)