UPDATE : 2018.5.15 화 17:14

[Vol. 78] Social Media Are Making Our Society Blue

김보임 기자l승인2017.11.29l수정2017.11.30 01:44

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In modern society, depression is becoming a serious problem. It causes sleeping disorders and weight loss, even resulting in murders in some cases. Last September, a mother who was suffering from depression killed her two children and tried to kill herself. The thing is that depression is not that rare as you think. According to World Health Organization, there are 30 million people worldwide who are suffering from depression. Meanwhile, social media have changed the overall aspects of depression from cause to treatment. Thus, this article is going to cover aspects of depression intensified by social media in modern society.

Social media boosting depression in modern society
Causes of depression can be diverse: genetics, circumstances, and imbalance of neurotransmitter and hormone. Among them, circumstances are thought to be the most major factor. Social media is one of the recently rising core factors, which made
comparing oneself with others easier than ever. Thus, the number of people who feel inferior to others has increased, which seems to have contributed to the increase of depression in modern society.

Depression in modern society with the rise of social media
Social media are spreading the spoon theory and academic elitism. Originating from the English expression “born with a silver spoon”, the types of a spoon are quite diverse in Korea. There are four types spoons: clay for the poor, bronze for the average, silver, and gold for the relatively wealthy. Social media took a role in spreading this theory. The bingo board for a spoon type which label most people as the clay went viral through social media. Furthermore, when seeing posts on social media, it is easy to think that everyone else is living a fulfilling life. What many people do not seem to know is the fact most people post only the best moments of their lives. This sense of deprivation piles up and thus makes lethargic and self-mocking society.

Academic elitism has long been controversial, which is getting worse with the wide use of social media nowadays. Students post pictures of their study planner that shows an enormous amount of time they spent on studying, which can make other students feel nervous and inferior. Pictures of admission certificates or friends doing internships at large companies can make people jealous and more obsessed with academic backgrounds. In extreme cases, some even commit a crime. Two years ago, a high school student canceled the admission of his friend out of jealousy after seeing the certificate of admission on a Facebook page. It was revealed that he used the personal information he found on the Facebook page to cancel the admission.

Depression can nudge people on the edge of their lives. Social media nowadays can even act as a useful tool for the depression patients who want to commit suicide together. In last April, three people committed suicide together in a pension located in Incheon. According to the police, they found one another by searching the word ‘committing suicide together’ on Twitter and stayed in contact with each other. According to Korea Suicide Prevention Center, 23 thousand cases of harmful information about suicide were detected from this January to April. It is also revealed that almost all of the cases were found on portal sites, communities, and Twitter that anybody can easily approach. Unlike the suicide sites once secretly formed in portal sites cafés, deserted Internet bulletin boards are being used nowadays.

The worry is that Twitter, the core of harmful information about suicide, is totally staying off the surveillance. Twitter is an international corporation, which is not under control of Korea Internet Selfgovernance Organization. Also, it has more strict conditions for deleting posts than other social media. What is worse, the right of deleting belongs to individuals who create the posts, which makes it even more difficult to delete the posts that recruit suicide companions.

Ways to cope with depression with and without social media
To treat depression, medical and psychological treatment such as counseling will be the first thing to be carried out. Having other hobbies such as reading and exercising can be also helpful in treating depression. Plus, physical communication such as shaking hands and making an eye-contact can help decrease stress hormone levels.

The thing that cases above have in common is that they all occurred when one can only passively see what others have uploaded. That is to say, it can be a solution to depression if social media can be an outlet for inner thoughts and feelings. Application AROUND is an example. It is a social diary that enables people to share their feelings and thoughts anonymously. They can upload their diaries with various background music and pictures. One of its users made a comment that said, “It is really amazing to have someone empathize with me and support me.” In a world in which social media are an inevitable part of communication, positive and healthy use of social media seems to be significant.

Having an interest in one’s appearance, building up desires for attention, feeling blue and gloomy are perhaps natural phenomena for human beings. However, connected with some parts of social media, these are becoming some kinds of mental disorders, making bruises on the mind of people. Contemporaries had better pay more attention to these mental diseases because the ointment for them mostly comes from the efforts of people themselves as mentioned in three prior articles. It is time to look back in the continuous developments of social media, and then go forward again.

김보임 기자  boime0824@gmail.com
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