I get depressed…often. I hate it. But it is my reality. I used to feel totally alone in this state of dismay. But since I’ve committed to shattering the stigma around mental illness, and have been increasingly vocal about my depression, I’ve discovered how frightfully communal this dark state of being actually is.
So I started pressing people for specifics about their particular depressions. “Is it purely a chemical imbalance?” I would ask. “Or angst over a particular hurdle in life? Painful family situation? Lack of social network?” The answers have been fascinating. But one in particular continues to stand out to me.
“I just feel like I’m missing all this joy,” one of my interview subjects proclaimed. As we talked further, I surmised that her feelings had a lot to do with envy. “It just seems like everyone else is so happy and connected and out there enjoying life.” And suddenly it hit me, this is about Facebook. OK, not just Facebook, but social media in general.
Social media is destroying our happiness. Now this isn’t a new concept.There are lots of studies that prove that the more you’re engaged in social media, the higher your likelihood of suffering from depression. Plus the numbers don’t lie.
We have teens killing themselves in epic proportions. The teen suicide rate has increased more than 70% over the last decade. Our median age of death in this country has decreased for the past two years in a row to 78.7, which now falls below Canada, Germany, Mexico, France, Japan, and the U.K. Consensus is that both suicide and substance abuse account for the decrease in life expectancy in this country.
But if we look a tad deeper, I say we are depressed, suicidal and self medicating because we are constantly being bombarded with images of everyone we have ever known looking ecstatic, loved, successful and sexy at every moment.
So I have the solution to all of this! It’s my new social media platform called Koob Cafe! It’s the opposite, well almost the exact opposite, of Face Book (Think anagram, sort of). It’s the dark platform where everyone tells the bitter, jealous, angry truths about their lives. You can only post hideous pictures of yourself and anyone you know. The ones where your husband is picking his nose or your kid’s eyes are crossed. Or the ones where you’re like, “Seriously, do not fucking take this picture!”
We plan to closely monitor the site for anything that resembles positive personal PR, hyperbolic happiness, or polished photoshopped images. Koob Cafe is 100% bleak. You tell the truth no matter what. Your fucking husband left you because you got old and fat and you’re tired of pretending it was a mutual decision that’s “best for both of you.” You’re 28 year old son is in rehab…again. And the good news? He’s moving back in with you if he ever gets clean.
You’re addicted to pain meds.You’re broke because you keep spending every last dime on Botox and Restalyne injections. Your sister is having an affair with your husband. Your lawn is dead and the HOA wants you to move the hell out of the neighborhood. Your neighbor threw a dead raccoon on your porch because he thinks your non-organic fertilizer killed his beloved Western Larch tree.
JUST TELL THE FUCKING TRUTH! Then we can all get back to living our stupid, empty lives without feeling like we’re missing out constantly on every good time party, love affair, family event, or travel expedition.
It may sound negative. I get that we’re supposed to project positivity, visualize the dreams we have for ourselves, fake it till we make it. But enough is enough.
Examples of acceptable posts:
This is what I look like when I wake up in the morning.
My kid told me he hates me more than life itself before he slammed the door and drove off in my BMW because I suck as a parent.
My house looks like it was hit by a natural disaster. But this is how it always looks!
If we start owning up to the reality of our lives, maybe we wont all feel like we’re always missing the happiness mark. Life is not easy. And it’s not perfect. But it is what we make it. So find your bliss in the inconsequential successes of your son taking out the garbage without being asked, or your spouse remembering to text you that they’ll be home late, or appreciate the five minutes of sun that shone in the Seattle sky today. It’s really that simple.
And please stop comparing your life to the best moments of everyone else’s