‘It’s a crafted image’: Salford academic calls for people with depression to be more cautious with social media

A Salford academic is calling for people with depression to be more cautious about how they use social media.

Dr Mark Widdowson, a lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Salford, said people are relying too heavily on sites like Facebook and Snapchat rather than having face-to-face relationships.

However, the lecturer believes that excessive social media use is more likely to be a symptom of depression, rather than a cause.

“Social media taps into a basic insecurity that everyone has got about not being good enough,” said Mark.

“If you’re sat in your pyjamas on your settee eating a packet of crisps, it’s chucking it down outside and you see all your friends having a nice time on holiday, you start to think that your life is really boring.

“It’s human nature to compare ourselves to other people but when we do, we usually do it negatively and look at our deficiencies.”

The psychotherapist said that online users should realise that they are comparing their own lives to carefully selected highlights of others.

“Those mornings where you look a bit of a state, or those Sunday afternoons when the house is trashed, you’re not going to take a photograph and put it on social media,” he said.

“You’re going to take a photo on a Friday night while you’re out and you look fantastic.

 “It’s about recognising that people are creating a crafted image and not allowing it to kick into self-comparison.”

The academic believes that our online habits may be rooted in our natural survival instinct, with youngsters feeling the need to be part of a group than older people.

“We all have this instinct towards acceptance and social recognition,” he said.

“It’s an evolutionary advantage, if you look back to three million years ago when we all lived in caves, if you weren’t accepted or were rejected then you would die.

“Our brains still haven’t caught up and that means, when you start throwing social media in, that if you don’t get 26 ‘likes’ on your new outfit then you’re going to die.”

A recent study found out that teenagers are most affected by what they see on social media, and experts have warned that some youngsters are starting to demonstrate addictive behaviour when it comes to online activity.

“If you’re reliant on social media to feed your self-esteem, as soon as those supplies dry up you’re going to be in a pretty bad way,” said Mark.

“Social media has got some amazing strengths but you need to be conscious and cautious about what you’re using it for.

“It’s not a substitute for face to face relationships, and if people are doing that they’ll end up in hot water.”

Image courtesy of HigtonBros, via YouTube, with thanks.

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