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Social Media Is Redefining 'Depression' - Anne-Sophie Bine

Social Media Is Redefining 'Depression' - Anne-Sophie Bine
A few months ago, Laura U., a typical 16-year-old at an international school in Paris, sat at her computer wishing she looked just like the emaciated women on her Tumblr dashboard. She pined to be mysterious, haunted, fascinating, like the other people her age that she saw in black and white photos with scars along their wrists, from taking razor blades to their skin. She convinced herself that the melancholic quotes she was reading—“Can I just disappear?” or “People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives, they want to end their pain”—applied to her. Among Tumblr’s 140+ million blogs, social communities form around specific topics: music, fashion, photography, and also kinds of disorders. Months ago Laura was part of one such community, scrolling through hundreds of photographs on Tumblr that evoke negative emotions through art and call it depression. “Even those people who are ‘wannabe depressed’ still feel the same emotions. Kutcher says the problem is in misinformation.

Related:  Digital anthropology

Thinking with selfies Kath Albury @KathAlbury continues our edition of ‘The Person in the (Big) Data‘ by talking about her research into young people and sexting. Instead of educating those who worked with young people about social media and the digital, Kath developed an innovative Selfie Workshop with colleagues where she got participants to produce and reflect on their own selfies through the lens of introductory media theory. Instead of telling educators about sexting and social media representation, Kath facilitated an experience in which they would be directly involved. This kind of embodied learning is a wonderful way of generating new data about the social implications of mediation and offers the opportunity to engage directly to empower the community under study.

Why Do We Share Viral Videos? Cats are everywhere online. They’re grumpy, they’re in business, they can play the keyboard, and even do chemistry. When it comes to shareable content cats definitely top the list, although there have been some serious secondary contenders worth noting, like screaming goats and Left Shark. And while you might have tried not to click on goat-related media, it’s unlikely you managed to avoid all of the Hotline Bling remixes that flooded Facebook, particularly if you have the site’s autoplay feature enabled. The most recent candidate for viral fame was Damn, Daniel, a high schooler made relevant by his stylistic display of his white Vans. All it took to propel him to the forefront of public consciousness was a pair of bright white sneakers and a little swagger.

Instagram and the Cult of the Attention Web: How the Free Internet is Eating Itself — RE: Write Time is more precious than money. Money is a renewable resource. Everyone always has the potential to make more money. Time, on the other hand, is finite. There are only so many hours in a day. Will the Internet of Things set family life back 100 years? This article is part of The Design Economy series. The Internet is disrupting the established rules that control the way we live our lives. From business, to entertainment, to government, we have already experienced the far-reaching effects of a technology that connects us in unprecedented ways. Now, with the advent of the Internet of Things (or IoT), ‘connection’ is evolving beyond our mobile phones, tablets and computers.

We calculated the year dead people on Facebook could outnumber the living By the end of this century, Facebook might start to feel more like a digital graveyard than a place for the living. Facebook has 1.5 billion users now. And according to the Digital Beyond, an online legacy planning company, millions of them are already dead. What happens to Twitter bots when their makers die There’s no good way to ask people if they think Twitter will outlive them. I don’t mean any offense to Jack Dorsey and Co., but one must ask this awkward question when trying to find out programmers’ plans for their Twitter bots when they die. Bots (for lack of a better term) are programs that use an application program interface (API) to post to or pull information from various services, and they’ve have become ubiquitous on Twitter. There are bots that sort pixels, suggest Marxist startup ideas, or behave more like teens than teens.

The Surprisingly Devious History of CAPTCHA Life in the Information Age changes so fast and so often that we often don’t even notice. Take, for example, the CAPTCHA system of internet user authentication, which became ubiquitous, then kind of sinister, then began to fade away. The word CAPTCHA is an acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” The original system was developed in the early 2000s by engineers at Carnegie Mellon University. The team, led by Luis von Ahn (who calls himself "Big Lou"), wanted to find a way to filter out the overwhelming armies of spambots pretending to be people.

Science Of Us: It’s Almost Weirder When Online Daters Don’t Lie A recent edition of Vows, the wedding-announcements section of the New York Times, featured a sadly familiar fact about modern dating: the groom wooed his now-wife with a fib. In an effort to figure out what would make his profile stand out, Scott Birnbaum created multiple profiles on and finally zeroed in on what had been holding him back: his five-foot-five height. And so he fudged it, giving his online self a three-inch growth spurt. His now-wife, Tracy Podell, caught on almost instantly upon meeting him; luckily for Birnbaum, she didn’t really mind. “I understood the reasoning and I thought it was funny,” she told the Times. “It’s not like he was doing something bad or wrong.”

Science of us: The Scientific Case for Instagramming Your Food The most important thing about a good food picture, as any amateur food photographer can tell you, is natural light. It’s why you can find particularly determined patrons of the food-photography arts looking like lost waiters — carrying plates of food to nearby windows just to take a picture. If there is no natural light, there is always the option of flash.

Why is the internet such a creepily haunted place? —... Every day I experience a ghost. This ghost takes many different forms. Sometimes it’s a photograph uploaded to Facebook and stumbled upon at 2 or 3am, an old snapshot in which not all those photographed are still alive. Internet outrage, explained One of the most common human behaviors is also one of our most perplexing: Our tendency to get all worked up about other people's business. Anyone on Twitter knows that people will jump on a hair trigger to condemn the moral failings of others. Perhaps you'll remember when Justine Sacco, a former communications director with IAC, tweeted this: "Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS.

Weird Twitter: The Oral History

While depression is an emotional state of being that has been around since the beginning of time. Only recently has it been advertized on social media websites such as tumbler, instagram, and twitter. Because of the lack of privacy and extreme exposure that is present on the web it allows for people who are feeling alone to feel connected. I feel that this movement originated with my generation when the "emo" or "emotional" movement originated. It allowed abunch of hormonal teenagers to release their emotions by wearing weird clothing and makeup. Now that it is being blasted on the internet for millions to see more confused teenagers are latching on to the idea of being depressed. This relates to my topic because I feel that ADHD medicine became such a public norm especially amounst the youth and that is what has made people feel that it is "OK" or "NORMAL" to consume this medicine... by jona226 Apr 22

This is the most disturbing article ever. Those that Glorifying depression should be punished with a crime. Depression is a real problem and those that suffer and the families that witness this do not feel it to be glorified. Teenagers are so impressionable, they suffering from hormonal and body image issues. There must be something that can be done to stop these posts. As a mother I'm concerned about my own boys and their friends, none the less my nieces. As a teen I too suffered from an eating disorder and as an adult suffered from postpartum, these are nothing I would call glorified. There needs to be some govern over the Internet. by thomasdf Apr 11

I found this article to be so sad, and unfortunately true. Countless numbers of times I've checked out someone's blog and came across a posted picture that seems to glorify some sort of gloomy, mysterious scene or person that insinuates suffering as beautiful. This article explains how this accessibility to this sort of exhibitionism of self-harm, suicide, depression, or self-loathing is leading to the younger generation misinterpreting what it means to be clinically depressed. Tumblr along with other forms of blogging allows anyone to view and post these types of "depressing" photos under the pretext that it is beautiful, romantic, or deep. Today the depression many teenagers, like those on Tumblr, say they have is one that’s linked to a notion of “beautiful” suffering, and then the community of bloggers just seem to feed off one another. This may not relate to my topic of juicing, however my topic for my feature article focuses on the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. This is directly related to this is truly disturbing how many online forums and blogs there are that actually promote eating disorders. Those who are suffering from either disease are made to feel as if it's "beautiful suffering," like this article mentions, and are encouraged to continue on with their behaviors. Hence, members of these blogging communities feed off one another because they feel accepted and understood by jaqmck12 Apr 10

This atricle is very interesting because it shines light on an aspect of social media, that I feel people do not recognize in terms "support" systems. Although I think it is great that people who suffer various sickness have the ability to share with people who are in the same position as them. However, it is should be noted how detramental these types support groups can be to people involved. Because our proejct is based so heavily on beauty and self-image we have a very specific audience or niche of people that we focus on. That being said, this article is very relateable to our project because we focus heavily on the negative effects the web 2.0 can have on particular audiences. by pollymacnab Feb 25

I find this article interesting because of the ways in which social media can be used. People that are depressed can log on to Tumblr, YouTube, etc. and find other people that are going through the same thing and it only makes the situation worse because that person then feels like they belong somewhere. I feel like people also use social media to escape from the real world, which is not healthy either. Although I did find this article interesting it doesn't really relate to my topic in any way. by cmcampbe1 Feb 25

I feel that in todays society we are always having to live up to a standard and those standards are not always the healthiest ones. This reading relates to my topic because when dealing with not only obesity but any physical appearance depression is always a concern. Social Media is always focusing on the extremely thin women which are often so photoshopped its no where close to what she or he may look like. In this situation I dont feel as though online help forums are healthy. Often people who are apart of these forums suffer with the problem at hand them selves. How do you know who to take advice from and who not too? I think it is a very tricky subject and every situation is obviously different. by geschirm Feb 25

What do you think of Androidgoat's comment, below? by fostercb Feb 24

Yes...a lot of researchers are studying this many people feel that social media lead to happiness because they keep us connected. But WHO we are connected to, and the nature of those connections, figures into that equation. Also, research has begun to explore the idea that social media ACTUALLY keep us apart, not connected, since we are not really making connections with people. by fostercb Feb 24 would be hard to connect this to your topic:) by fostercb Feb 24

I agree that this is something that relates to your topic. People (especially women) can get caught up in striving for youthful beauty...they might place a lot of hope (and spend a lot of cash) on products or have way too many plastic surgeries...and hope to have these behaviors validated by others who share the same concerns. by fostercb Feb 24

Good point about reading or viewing things you don't agree with: it helps you sort out your own point of view. This is a HUGE part of the true deliberation process, which is key to a working democracy. by fostercb Feb 24

The internet create niches where people can echo their unhealthy behavior to one another. Like minded people find each other through the internet and its tools and if the people are engaging in harmful or negative behavior the outcome is les than beneficial. The pro anorexia movement is a prime example of this. This relates to my topic of happiness because arguably these people are choosing to be unhappy by actively seeking out other people who reflect their feelings back to them. In this way the internet can be dangerous. People can become sucked into it and rely on it too much for reassurance and information. It's important to cast a wide net when your taking in information on the internet to help broaden your perspective and see the big picture. Even if you are taking in information that doesn't work for you or you don't agree with, just by being exposed to it helps you better define what you prefer, which can be good or bad. by mkeen Feb 20

This article is very interesting, how it shows that groups and media sources like this are encouraging sad behavior that is actually detremental to these people. The fact that they feel connected or pretty and it give the sense of having one of these issues is actually a nice, pleasant, or beautiful thing. Because of the way it is being shown on media sources, or online forums for people to talk about it and bond on poor decisions or mental disorders and encourage these things, it furthers this problem and isn't actually helping these people. I feel like while it is good to connect with others if you feel alone, but the issue is that they encourage these behaviors and feelings, instead of helping and discouraging them. This relates to my topic in the sense that people are targeted by the cosmetics companies to want to look young and that youth is more beautiful. This can distort womens body images and actually create distorted views of their bodies and the way that they may look. by hedgesrauscher Feb 20

While there was no direct connection to either of my projects, I do believe the process of desensitizing certain words is an issue. I agree with Dr. Kutcher that social media is accelerating that process. There are words like ‘retarded’ and ‘gay’ which use to be used so casually however now in a world that is all about being politically correct those words are no longer used but people are starting to default to other words. Which I don’t think was the goal. by svonschweinitz Feb 20

I also do believe that social media is leading to depression, bullying has changed so much because of social media and i feel like people have become so dependent on social media to make them feel better or worse about themselves. Its become an unhealthy obsession. by lmarotta2 Feb 20

Really liked this article especially because social media has become so influential. When looking at our tpoic of autism and it being caused by vaccines a large amount of the support or opposition is seen through social media. Without social media public figures like Jenny Mccarthy couldnt find people to support her opinion on autism and vaccines especially since she isnt an expert. by lmarotta2 Feb 20

I have to wonder if social media is leading to more depression (and wannabe depression) or whether it's just giving people who already have those feelings a way of seeing others are going through the same thing and it's not as uncommon as previously thought. As someone who was a teenager at the beginning of the internet and lived in a tiny town with no real friends, I didn't know there were others that felt like me. My preferred method was branding, not cutting. I would heat a Zippo and press it into my flesh or I'd use it to heat other metal and do the same thing. I thought it was a way of coping I'd come up with myself and had no idea others were doing it. I don't know if it would have made me feel validated and increased my branding (I'd already moved into creating designs by bending paper clips), or whether knowing that I wasn't alone and talking to others would've helped. Social media is just a medium; it's effect could be positive or negative depending on its use. by androidgoat Feb 18

Social media is incredibly powerful and in this case it has redefined what depression means to todays youth. This article relates to my topic in the sense that people are "depression wannabes" because I think there are also ADHD wannabes. The article said people think they are depressed when they lose their keys or were in an argument with parents or boyfriend/girlfriend. Likewise, people think since they cannot concentrate for long periods of time or a child is too energetic then they MUST have ADHD and the only way to solve it is by taking medications. by alexcook Feb 18

This article deals with several of the issues discussed in our research on happiness- social media's role, the increase in popularity of the research/disease, and the role of one's environment. The article discusses controversial topics in analyzing depression, such as the "beautification of the disease" and "depression wannabes". I think this article in incredibly interesting in that it goes against conventianal wisdom, yet is also strongly argued and provides data to back it's claims. This article does an excellent job of explaining a controversy in a way that is not overly subjective. by brittanyacooper Feb 13

This article does not really relate to my topic of obesity, except for the fact that many people who are obese tend to suffer from depression. Since the internet is able to put ideas of depression and "cutting themselves" into people's heads as "beautiful suffering," this could lead to an increase in depression leading to more suicides. This is very sad and shows that the internet is getting out of hand. by acworthy Feb 12