Anybody got the “Facebook Blues?”

This ABC News Segment asks a question others have asked before: Is social media making people depressed? What are your thoughts or experiences? Or just send suggested lyrics for the “Facebook Blues.”

© 2013, David Newhoff. All rights reserved.

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  • It does that not because of the reasons sited in the video, IMO.

    It makes people miserable because it’s become the ONLY ‘connectedness’ (through tech) a lot of people experience day to day.
    Think about it.
    Yes, humans evolve… but not that fast. We are accustomed to being with, no, experiencing each other… with ALL our senses. Looking at a computer screen, you’ve cut out 4 of the 5 senses in any person-to-person interaction. This leaves people feeling unsatisfied and hollow… no wonder people are depressed.
    Turn off the device. Turn off the computer. Go out and talk to someone….

  • The amazing Portland-based guitarist Mary Flower has a song in this vein (

    I understand the critique. I am sure that for some people (indeed, for me sometimes), FB and social media in general can lead to depression, for the reasons mentioned in the clip (a hyper-awareness and overvaluing of status — not unlike the sort of thing many of us experienced in high school). I am sure too that James is right: we lose something basic in human experience when we rely solely on online connections. Further, social media seems to be addictive. Many of us come to crave the daily shot of approval and attention — even though that approval and attention may not always be genuine. Indeed, we may be defining downward the idea of “liking” something, or of “friendship” itself.

    Yet even with all of these drawbacks, it is hard for me to look at the technology so deterministically. As a research and networking tool, social media is undeniably powerful. As the bassist and blogger Steve Lawson once wrote (I’m paraphrasing) — if you are sick of Twitter you may need new Twitter friends. Most of my social media contacts are musicians, and for whatever it’s worth, I feel more aware of trends in music now than I ever did in the 90s. It’s not that such information did not exist back then, but it wasn’t nearly as accessible or immediate.

    Of course, that abundance of information can itself be a prompt to depression. Who has the time to keep up? So we’re still learning to use the tools productively — how to curate feeds, how to store and manage online information. In a review of Matthew Guerrieri’s book on Beethoven’s Fifth, Leon Bottstein writes that “Old-fashioned learning, it seems, has become obsolete. In its place is the creative use of an unlimited array of links and an amalgam of synergies. A note of caution is in order: Absent deep and coherent familiarity with a subject, the wealth of possibilities opened up by the Internet can easily lead a writer astray. Yet nostalgia would be misplaced. It was inevitable that the Internet would alter the habits of research. We need new talents, new skills and a sophisticated ability to sort genuine connections from spurious ones.”

    I think Bottstein is essentially right here. It’s not that social media (or, more generally, Internet culture) inevitably leads to depression. Rather, we haven’t quite mastered the new talents and skills needed to make sense of this new information landscape.

    • David Newhoff

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Andrew. And thank you in particular for the the Botstein quote, as I am alumnus of Bard College. Moreover, the balance being sought in your observations and in that quote is the same one I look for with this blog. When I pose the question, it’s sincere; I am not out simply to bash the internet.

      I agree with James that the nature of connection through social media is certainly something “else” that may be a kind of trans-human experience incongruous with our evolved nature; but I also have had experiences like you that are enriching and cannot be dismissed as false connections. I think the ABC story is primarily focusing on social media as a new means for making us feel “the grass is always greener,” which is more narrow than the matter you raise about the onslaught of information. More on this later. It’s a busy day.


  • (whoops: “Botstein”)

  • Interesting Bill Moyers video.

    If you have the time (whole thing is an hour long) stick around and watch Sherman Alexie interview too in the last half. Very interesting fella, awesome poet. He even touched on some of this topic.

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