In our overly connected society, we may often confuse connectivity with connection — human connection that is. Commenting, texting, reposting and retweeting have become substitutes for communication, and we often erroneously use these to gauge the status of a relationship. That can be dangerous, because the truth is so much gets overlooked when scrolling through our feeds. Sometimes it’s either way too apparent that a friend has depression or anxiety and we are quick to catalogue them as “dark.” Other times, our friends become experts at curating their lives to showcase a surreal perfection, and it can be way too easy for us to believe they are alright.
So, you notice your friend is feeling the blues, the reds and every color in between. What can you do if you suspect a close friend may be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety?
First off, yes there is some good advice in this article about what to do, and what not to do, if you want to stay connected and support someone dealing with depression. Secondly, the above statement about online connections is important to remember. Clearly, with my travel schedule I have to rely on online social networks to stay connected to my friends and family. But it’s important to get beyond that, to be honest with each other, and not create an online profile that portrays the perfect life with our closest friends.
For public consumption, sure create a nice view of yourself, one that won’t hurt you professionally, and let’s those who don’t know you well to see what you choose to share with them. But do something away from the public with your closest friends, so that you can be yourselves.
I honestly believe this is why networks like Snapchat have grown so popular with younger people. It’s a place to be yourself with a smaller group, and a place where things aren’t permanent like they are on other social networks. Truth is though, there are lots of ways to privately share with your closest friends when you need to, and at some level, we all need to.