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Internet Depression
February 3, 2010 3:51 PM   Subscribe

"Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression,but what we don't know is which comes first - are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?"
posted by Elmore (48 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
My money's on both.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:53 PM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


The MetaFilter: jokes. They write themselves.
posted by kipmanley at 3:55 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


theres going to be some depression in this thread shortly.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:56 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Finally: so many of Anonymous's questions have been answered.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:57 PM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


"While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send e-mails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities."

Well, overlooking some of the language used in this quote (namely 'interfere') experience tells me that this is not a 'small subset' of internet users.

unless you are old. in which case, it's your fault all of us facebook addicts are depressed. We wanted to play outside, but you kicked us off your lawn.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:01 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Eeyore, the old grey Donkey, stood by the side of the stream, and looked at himself in the water. "Pathetic," he said. "That's what it is. Pathetic." He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back on the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again. "As I thought," he said. "No better from this side. But nobody minds. Nobody cares. Pathetic, that's what it is."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:05 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I definitely spend more time on the Internet when I'm depressed, and I suspect that contributes to my depression to the extent that Internet use cuts into my exercise time.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:05 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


There may be a correlation between being exposed to many things at which you're not good at or ever going to do and the onset of depression realizing how insignificant you are in the whole scheme of things. If you have a depressive personality, the internets are definitely going to exacerbate your condition.

Especially if you read DailyKos every day during the eight-year reign of King George and minister Dick. That was depression.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:07 PM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


There may be a correlation between being exposed to many things at which you're not good at or ever going to do and the onset of depression realizing how insignificant you are in the whole scheme of things.

this is absolutely true for me.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:14 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, social networking is the last available human contact for the unshowered recluse.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:18 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe they're online looking for info about HOW TO GET BETTER FROM DEPRESSION???

They were at least were nice enough to note there was no causation, which is more than you can say for most "research" of this kind. But the idea that the biggest source of information in the history of the world is a bad thing for people who need help- that's just kind of dumb.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:21 PM on February 3, 2010


YouTube comments alone are a cause of a most profound and terrible despair.
posted by you just lost the game at 4:21 PM on February 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


Vaughn Bell nails it: it's like any other compulsive behavior. Shiny happy people rarely suddenly start engaging in self-destructive behavior that gets in the way of their lives. Profoundly depressed, isolated or otherwise unhappy, disconnected people-- or people who are already prone to compulsive behavior-- get compulsive around activities or substances that lend themselves to this. Their compulsive behavior doesn't fix them so they get worse.

Such people are going to find some outlet for this behavior. The less we focus on the symptom and the more we look at what's really driving it, the better we will be at dealing with it.

Of course, depressed people get more depressed by engaging in unfruitful overuse of the internet isn't a very sexy story.
posted by Maias at 4:25 PM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]



Baloney.
posted by mmoncur at 4:32 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


being exposed to many things at which you're not good at...

On the other hand, five or ten minutes on Fail Blog will make you realize how smart you really are.

That is, unless an ex posted that old video of you...
posted by R. Mutt at 4:41 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


robocop is bleeding gets so many favourites... so depressing.
posted by GuyZero at 4:44 PM on February 3, 2010


Gee, I better snap out of this habit.
Goodbye Metafilter!
posted by Flashman at 4:45 PM on February 3, 2010


I could quit anytime I want!
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:50 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


How could the network that has this cause depression?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:50 PM on February 3, 2010


For something so depressing, it's sure got a lot of cute kitty pictures.
posted by rokusan at 4:53 PM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


As much as I like BBC, I'm getting a wee bit tired of single link BBC news posts that I read 2 days ago or something. I have spoken.
posted by prufrock at 4:55 PM on February 3, 2010


There there prufrock, cheer up. How's about a walk outside? Yeah? C'mon...
posted by phrontist at 4:59 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


robocop is bleeding gets so many favourites... so depressing.

ssshhh...we just do that to make him feel better.
posted by marxchivist at 5:04 PM on February 3, 2010


If using internet == knowing more about the looney shit that's going on in this world, then yes, damn straight it's all very, very depressing.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:10 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music? -High Fidelity

posted by water bear at 5:13 PM on February 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Holy crap, a study that doesn't automatically assume that the internet is the cause of some sort of misery!
posted by jabberjaw at 5:13 PM on February 3, 2010


I'm happy until I come here and see the idiotic user name I picked all those years ago when I was still new at the game.

But, yeah, both. Definitely both.
posted by mrhappy at 5:15 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


In terms of cause and effect, he pointed out that previous research has suggested that people who are depressed or anxious may be more likely to use the internet rather than the other way round. [...] "Although excessive internet use can't be said to cause mental health problems, [blah blah blah]"
There's burying the lede, then there's burying the smart.
posted by fleacircus at 5:38 PM on February 3, 2010


IT WAS THE POST THAT WOULD NOT DIE
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:39 PM on February 3, 2010


"Our research indicates that excessive _______ use is associated with depression,but what we don't know is which comes first - are depressed people drawn to the _______ or does the _______ cause depression?"

Both, for any value of _______.
posted by Xezlec at 6:11 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


DONT JUDGE ME
posted by june made him a gemini at 6:12 PM on February 3, 2010


OTOH, this post made me laugh, so there's that.
posted by Standeck at 6:14 PM on February 3, 2010


I think it's not really much of a logical leap. As someone noted upthread, happy people don't tend to engage in self-destructive loops. I bet depression correlates with drug use, alcoholism, gambling addiction, overeating, and excessive watching of television, too. In fact, if anyone wants to spot me a few dozen thousand dollars, I'll go take care of that study right this second.

I will actually just go to Kongregate and ceaselessly click away at tower defense games until I finally collapse from exhaustion at three a.m., my dried-out eyes reflecting the ruin of my life.

Honestly, at one point when I was really really unhappy in my career, I would sit and play Magic: The Gathering for six hours at a stretch. Anything that is normally a diversion can become an obsession if your mental state starts crumbling in on itself.
posted by Scattercat at 7:12 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ugh - these things are correlated. Now we'll assume a causal arrow exists between them. Fallacious, I tells ya, fallacious!
posted by taliaferro at 7:19 PM on February 3, 2010


The other factor is social isolation--if you are socially isolated, your options for entertainment dwindle to TV, internet, videos, music. Unlike the other three options, he internet is hard to do with someone.

We're social animals. Have you ever seen a gorilla by itself in a zoo? They get depressed.
posted by kathrineg at 7:22 PM on February 3, 2010


I say malarkey - the Internet is how I found the cure for depression.
posted by idiopath at 7:36 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


BREAKING NEWS WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS SO IT MUST BE REALLY IMPORTANT AND TRUE!

Ejaculation linked to blowjobs, researchers discover.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:40 PM on February 3, 2010


Has anyone ever done a study of the type of people that answer online surveys? It seems obvious to me these would tend to attract people that really wanted someone to be interested and couldn't find anything more worthwhile on the internet. Maybe the data just prove that there is a type of depressed person that is more likely than the general population to take internet surveys.
posted by vapidave at 7:45 PM on February 3, 2010


Has anyone ever done a study of the type of people that answer online surveys?

I've often wondered this. It seems that the data collected would be useless, as they aren't getting anything approaching a representative sample of the population.
posted by jbr at 9:36 PM on February 3, 2010


Unlike the other three options, he internet is hard to do with someone.

WoW.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 11:42 PM on February 3, 2010


That might have come off snarky, but I'm somewhat serious here. The new frontline touched on this subject and explored how people are using MMORPGs and other online communities to connect to others better than they would have been able to otherwise IRL
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 11:47 PM on February 3, 2010


Unlike the other three options, he internet is hard to do with someone.

Um, hello? We're right here, kathrineg.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:40 AM on February 4, 2010


YouTube comments alone are a cause of a most profound and terrible despair.

Kind of explains why half its videos are cats doing their thing. First you read the comments, then you watch a kitty to feel better.
posted by ersatz at 4:15 AM on February 4, 2010


Half assed Science like this is what's fucking depressing. Or the reporting thereof. Or something. Anyway, I'm depressed.
posted by Trochanter at 6:57 AM on February 4, 2010


A recent news article said just this!! I think i am addicted to the internet, and often wonder how and what people did without it!
posted by Mike Brains at 7:32 AM on February 4, 2010


The problem is quantifying what people are doing on the internet. For a lot of people (like my dad) it seems like spending time on the internet must be a socially isolating experience. That's because he uses it to look up movie reviews, driving directions, etc. For him, the internet is like a giant helpful encyclopedia. Lonely, but useful.

But for me, the internet is the #1 provider of my social needs. I live in a rural area, and I work from home, and THANK GOD THE INTERNET PEOPLE KEEP ME COMPANY.

I have a blog, and belong to a sort of unofficial network of bloggers and commenters who I count as friends. We talk and discuss things all day long. And I belong to other discussion groups on Ravelry and Facebook, and Twitter.

And there's Metafilter of course, which is less like those social networks, and more like a cocktail party the size of an airplane hanger. It's nice to wander around, flit in and out of conversations, etc.

So my question is, what are the depressed people doing online? Because if you look at a depressed person's browser history, and it's all social networking sites, I'd say the internet is doing them a favor. If it's nothing but porn and Popcap games, then no.
posted by ErikaB at 8:51 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Then again, Metafilter does make me feel #006699.
posted by ErikaB at 8:54 AM on February 4, 2010


Sitting and staring at the screen, reading...whatever. It allows one not to think about how depressed one is. You don't need to think about it, you don't need to be aware of it, you can ignore it. Out of sight, out of mind. But, depressed.

At least for someone that grew up before the internet, one thing it does is short-circuit established coping mechanisms. Without the internet, depression is boring beyond measure. Boredom can drive people to get out and find something interesting, and then the depression isn't there.

But that takes effort. Far easier to just read on and go check out the next tab on the browser.
posted by Goofyy at 12:43 AM on February 5, 2010


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