Digital Depression: A 21st Century Malaise

It is high time people are sensitised about risks involved in being a google doctor
Representational Photo
Representational Photo File

We are the part of digital world and digital usage is inescapable part of our lives. But our digital usage has turned into digital dependency and digital addiction. It has become a major public health issue affecting all age groups but mostly denarians( persons in the age group of 10-19 years) and vicenarians (persons in the age group of 20-29 years). It has led to digital depression.

Digital depression is defined as the feeling of restlessness, dissatisfaction, anxiety, loneliness and worthlessness caused to due to excessive use of digital media. It has different forms.

For example, we experience dissatisfaction with our life or looks, skills and status because we  check the pics and posts of people enjoying their life and flaunting all the luxuries they have ; we envy them without realising that everybody has his own share of hidden struggles and troubles in their real life; which we cannot fathom through their reel life.

There are many couples who post their happy moment clicks but they are not immune to the conflicts and misunderstandings; there are many teenagers who upload their family get together videos; but deep down they also are experiencing issue of generation gaps.

There are many successful award winning doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, IAS and KAS officers who show case their achievements and we consider ourselves underprivileged in comparison to them without realising they also have been through tough times and failures. 

Likewise there are many digital citizens who experience worthlessness and anxiety just because their friend list and subscribers are not at par with their competitors.

Many young buds develop depression because people don’t appreciate their pics and posts show casting their looks and skills. Many get depressed because they experience cyber bullying/ body shaming or people harass them and demean them.

As goes with roasting; many roasters in the race of getting more likes and views drag others to such extent that leaves a deep scar on the psyche of the roasted person. It has become a new trend that people upload videos of  tongue slip of others and mock them ; or some upload the videos of mentally challenged or some upload the videos of elders or of journalists. 

Tongue slip is a natural part of human communication but making fun of others and defaming them publicly is an offence which people are unmindful of ; and when these videos reach target person he/she and his family gets emotionally and psychologically affected; they get depressed.

Digital media is fuelling body image dissatisfaction; many youngsters get uncomfortable with sharing their original pics; they are deeply fascinated by the world of filters and keep uploading the filtered pics and videos;  I have seen youngsters who get panicky if somebody capture their pics with original camera and this world of filters and snap chat is leading to both depression and narcissism( excessive self love).

One good click  and comment is enough to thrill them with ecstasy and one negative comment is enough to ruin their day.  Self-Image and acceptance has become contingent on others’ approval and comments.

There are many youngsters who experience anxiety and depression when they don’t get something novel to share; their  minds remain engaged with the thoughts of which story to upload etc and this is affecting their psycho -social life and productivity. 

We don’t enjoy the moment be that family get together, picnic with friends or wedding ;but just keep capturing, storing and sharing the pics and videos. This has become a new mental burden.

Social media has become  the hotspot of cyber scams and we have the full awareness but still are unable to prevent ourselves from this.

For e.g; every mature male and female have this understanding that trusting and engaging in relationship with stranger is naivety and a risky adventure; but still educated and sensible boys and girls are falling in this trap.  Again and again we read or hear new story of a male or female ruined by the sweet poison of online dating. 

Though there are stories of happy couples who met online but online betrayals outweigh online commitments. There are many reported cases where girls  change their religion to marry their online lover and then were later deserted.

They were shown castles in the air and then deserted after  being physically, emotionally and psychologically abused. According to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 81% of people online lie about their height, age, weight, socio economic status or marital status on their dating profiles.

Likewise a study published in the journal of “Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social networking” based on  a survey of 4000 couples  revealed that couples who met online were more likelier to breakup than those who met in person.

Many youngsters  have become addicted to watching filthy items on internet as its freely accessible and nobody is there to stop them.  Digital porn addiction has taken a heavy toll on their mental and moral development.

Many youngsters then try to quit but are unable to do so without professional help and they hesitate to seek professional help in this regard. This cyber porn addiction creates anxiety and depression.

Digital depression (phoneliness) is also experienced when we don’t receive texts as frequently as expected or when there is  poor internet connectivity. There is biological underpinning too. Digital depression is caused due to sleep deprivation, muscle aches and eyestrain.

Last but not least one important cause of digital depression  is IDIOT (internet derived information obstructing treatment) syndrome. people suffering from IDIOT syndrome  google out their symptoms, self diagnose  and start treatment without consulting a doctor or some people google out the medicines prescribed by doctors and start checking their uses and side effects and then discontinue the treatment without realising that a single  medicine has numerous uses and doctors know best what a patient needs.

Many patients develop extreme health anxiety after searching their symptoms on internet as on google even a minor itching is shown to be linked to skin cancer. People blindly trust medical information available on internet; they lack knowledge to distinguish scientific facts from myths. ;

Likewise, many obsess and slim people start looking for medicines and supplements available to serve their purpose or many young females with skin related issues like pimples, pigmentation and facial hair start taking ointments and drugs by learning about them from google and end up falling victims to many secondary complications.

In our neighbourhood a 29 year old female died due to kidney failure; which occurred due to the side effects of a supplement that she bought online to gain weight. It is high time that people are sensitized about risks involved in being a google doctor and made aware about the importance of relying on the credible medical professionals.

Takeaway: Digital depression is real and it is the product of digital akrasia; tendency to be driven by digital dependency despite our better intentions. In other words, we have the realisation of the ramifications of our addiction but lack self  control to come out of it. It is imperative that we work on boosting self control. We should learn to be respectful in cyberspace; we should use decent language in comments.

All the young and old should be sensitized about the responsibility and accountability of what they watch and share online; they should be made skilled enough to use their critical thinking ability before trusting or propounding any information and update.

They should be made aware of intellectual property rights. They should be helped to accept and respect themselves and others in real way; free from filters. Working on the 9  principles of digital citizenship and the idea of  incorporating it in curriculum from school level as  propounded by  Mike Ribble and Marty Park will help us in long way.

We can save ourselves from digital depression by curtailing our digital usage and by being mindful of our cyber diet; (what we take in during our online surfing) As goes the principle GIGO (Gold in gold out; garbage in garbage out); we need to be cautious whether we are taking in logical and healthy infotainment or just filth and futile stuff.

Before spending our time in futile home tours and what I had in dinner caption videos it is very important we ask ourselves is it worth watching? Whats there to learn? .. Time is one of the biggest blessing and we will be held accountable of how we spent it.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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