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Facebook depresses only if we let it

August 21, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Facebook causes depression, said the headlines.

I will admit Facebook has been bugging me lately, but it’s a content thing. There once was a time when it seemed fulfilling, connecting with old friends, conducting an occasional political argument, etc. Nowadays, it’s largely degenerated into others posting fattening, decadent and probably inedible, for me at least, recipes of gigantic amounts of fat and sugar. I don’t even know if these friend posters made any of this stuff. They saw it and posted it, that’s all I know. And, admittedly, I occasionally find something among the daily cookbook of Facebook that looks download worthy for making on a holiday, when the rules go out the window.

In addition to the would-be Chef Robert Irvines, there are daily posters of line-art philosophy, canned statements perpetuating most women think all men are jerks, and cute pet photos. I have nothing against any of that if it was truly an original thought by the poster, not some canned-art or canned anti-man or stock too-cute pet photo from somewhere else. Got any thoughts on life yourself? Hate your own man, or are you just posting that all women should hate all men as a matter of course? And my cute pet photos are of P.J. The Chiweenie, my dog philosopher in the living room.

So, I’m upset, but no more than I am every day when the “Today” show comes on the TV. Vapid, stupid, uninteresting, sure. But depressing?

Well, it is as if people largely stopped having original thoughts, and I guess that depresses me a little. But I have tried lately to glaze by the doughnut recipes (get it? Glaze? Haha.).

I discovered, for instance, that when watching “The Godfather” saga on AMC last week, posting a few choice quotes and a thought about those quotes led to lively postings from friends who also were watching. It was like having 50 people over for my 407th viewing of “The Godfather,” but I didn’t have to buy 50 pounds of prosciutto and provolone and melons for the hors d’oeuvre tray. They could go to their own fridges.

Facebook also keeps me connected with people I haven’t talked to since about 1980, and it’s amazing how one can reconnect with some true friends as if not a single day has passed. And, in a few cases, to be closer than the stupidity of high school allowed us to be back then. (The original first reader of my very first columns from the high school newspaper is among my renewed pals. Good to get your ego poked by your first editor, I say.)

It’s also a great place to trade jokes, memories and plan get togethers. In some countries, it is used to plan revolutions. It allows me to post my daily three “Hey NSA” words when I want to (pineapples, corks, anchor chains. There’s today’s.).

The depression research seems to center on folks being envious of the lives others choose to post on Facebook, that it makes us feel inferior when we see a steady diet of our friends on the beach or whatever.

Like everything else in life, I think Facebook is what we choose to make of it. People brag face to face. People only tell us what they want us to know. We all do it. In fact, it’s a mistake to tell anyone your deepest thoughts (there’s that Corleone philosophy coming through). It leads to trouble, the kind of other stuff that people bash Facebook for. Rants that get folks in trouble.

Information that is just too personal.

Depression, I have found, results when we focus on ourselves way too much. I have been there, and yes, I do occasionally start thinking that way about Facebook. But when one thinks about relationships, they’re not really about us, or at least they shouldn’t be. They should be focused on the other person. So, if you have a bunch of interesting friends doing interesting stuff, think about how lucky you are to have interesting lives to share.

And go past the canned philosophy and fattening recipes. Those will kill brain cells and make you fat.

And maybe just a little depressed.

(Feel free to seek a friend request of me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @Pablomg228.)


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