The Internet Is Depressing You & Here’s What You Can Do About It

Photographed by Heather Talbert.
On social media, it's easy to catch all sorts of digital diseases, such as FOMO, internet addiction, and anxiety. Facebook and Instagram-wary researchers have said it for years now — and they're saying it again: Hanging out on social media too much isn't a healthy habit. So what's the catch this time? The warning comes from an Italian working paper exploring relationships between our online and offline social network and happiness. On the upside, social media can make us happier when it helps spark face-to-face connections and conversations. Terrific! But this isn't a groundbreaking conclusion. Even back in the pen-and-paper days, academics understood that face-to-face is simply the superior way to communicate. But the research also found that social media is associated with lowering our social trust, which can diminish the chances of those happiness-boosting IRL interactions. Not so terrific. "The overall effect of [online] networking on individual welfare is significantly negative," the study authors concluded. Please excuse us while we throw our smartphones out the window and seek out a friendly face for a chat. Just kidding. We're self-aware enough to know we can't live without Snapchat. The Guardian's Anna Petherick offers a few practical tips on sidestepping the social-media blues. First, quit fretting over the number of friends and followers your have, as they don't actually make us happier. Next up, socialize with intention; staying updated only on people you know well and regularly interact with can ward off that sinking feeling that everyone but you is living fabulously. When all else fails, Petherick recommends cat videos. No, really. Just as social media mellows our well-being, it's also a study-confirmed fact, courtesy of Indiana Univeristy, that cat GIFs can cheer us up.

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