Before we begin, two caveats. If you're a teenager, stop reading, straight up. If you're an adult whose age allows for recollection to the time before social media (Friendster: if you remember what that is, you qualify), then you probably had an innate sense of the news released this week by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
"The more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed," reads the first sentence of the school's statement of its findings, which quizzed 1,787 Americans between the ages of 19 and 32 on their social media usage in tandem with "an established depression assessment tool." UPSM found that those who checked in on social media (the study focused on the 11 most popular: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine and LinkedIn) most frequently were 2.7 times more likely to be depressed, and that those who spent the most total time on social media had 1.7 the risk of depression.
The researchers controlled for factors like age, race, relationship status income and education level, though lead author Lui yi Lin points out it doesn't prove cause and effect, only a psychological baseline that future studies can drill down. “It may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void,” Lin says in a statement. She also points out the possible ouroboros, chicken-and-egg of the link between social media and depression, that use of it may cause depression, which could drive people to use it more. Lin also points out the FOMO spine of platforms like Instagram: "Exposure to highly idealized representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives," reads the release.
Maybe you've thought sometimes about the great technological drain that modern Westerners experience and swirl around perpetually. Well here it is.