Dr Perpetua Neo

"Facebook makes me depressed"- How to redefine your relationship with social media

Dear Neo,

Last weekend, I felt very low. I was on Facebook and looking through my timeline. Everyone seemed to have so much fun, going to parties and all. I felt like a loser the more I looked. A year ago, I was diagnosed with HIV. I had severe depression but my advocate helped me feel better. I’m a long way from that dark point in my life. But Facebook affects my mood. I feel happy when I post something awesome. And I keep wanting to recreate that. I know some people say that it’s good to delete Facebook. I’ve tried it many times but keep going back. Can you help me?

Facebook Is My Drug

Dear Facebook Is My Drug

My friend calls rebuilding life “climbing out of a crater and realising there’s a mountain”. And Facebook is part of your mountain, elevated by your love-hate. But first, let me tell you that rebuilding your life is a big achievement.

3 points on Facebook

1. Facebook is the highlight reel

There are too many studies finding that the more you use Facebook, the likelier you’ll feel depressed and/or unhappy. Because we compareOur brains fill in the blanks from bits of someone’s life. We see their highlight reel and assume their life’s great. We’re caught up in our own minutiae, and believe our life isn’t that great. When your friends live-feed their holiday, their whole day seems wicked. Multiply this by the size of your friends list, you’ll see at least two blow-by-blow holiday fun each month. It looks like it’s always happening.

2. “The truth” is distorted, or an outright lie.

Skills make the difference between a Wow! shot and a Nonentity? shot. Years ago, my friend’s head looked like it was chopped off and served on a platter. The lighting was horrendous. Her photograph of me on the exact spot, with the same camera, looked divine. It’s a tale that still makes our bellies ache with laughter. Today, we have thousands of filters and apps. Perfect for Photoshop-on-demand without technical skills. Have you ever watched this videoYou’ll realise that people are their own PR directors on social media. See this page for an honest account by a girl on Instagram vs Reality.

3. We have different motivations for posting. . (or not)

Some hardly use Facebook, some are silent stalkers, some post sometimes. Others. . post all the time. What makes some people post more? Those who are more narcissistic post about their lives to brag. Those with more open personalities post on intellectual topics. Some whine for attention.

And. .what to do

Perhaps you’d like to track how you feel before and after using Facebook. If it always makes you feel worse, then perhaps it’s time for a detox.

And digging deeper, what is your purpose for posting? Let your “Why” guide you. Let me share how some people like myself use it. Facebook is my Gratitude Journal. It’s my virtual bank of happy memories. I’ve chosen not to write about things that bring me down. Instead, to muse about the things that make me happy. Whilst these can be mistaken as a ‘brag wall’, fundamentally, I know its purpose. So, I’m happy spending months there quiet or active, without saying “Facebook makes me depressed”.

I hope this helps you + if you’ve any further questions on the topic, ask away.


Dear Neo is an advice column, from me to you. Got a burning question about your struggles and/or creating your desired life? Or, in understanding what your friend’s going through? Say hello here.

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