Special Assignment: Social Suffering

Updated: Wednesday, February 12 2014, 09:35 PM MST
Special Assignment: Social Suffering  story image

By: Joshua Zuber

 The use of Facebook can actually make you feel down, maybe even depressed, if pre-exisiting issues already exist, according to one local social media expert.
Facebook has more than one billion users, and more than half of those use it daily, according to Facebook’s media resource page.
It started off just for those who have a college email address, but now anyone can sign up who’s got an email address.
“I've really become more interested at looking at how social media and especially electronic networks connect different groups of people,” said Dr. Richard Pineda. He is an expert on social media specifically in the realm of politics.  
Those different groups of people can range from pre-teens to the elderly.
KFOX 14 talked to a couple Del Valle high school freshmen about how they use Facebook.
Lorenzo Holguin, 14, said he uses it to stay in touch with friends and family out of state.
“Since some complications in my family to where my parents have to split apart and my mom now lives out of state. So I now have a far reach from her,” Holguin said.
Seeing pictures of his out-of-state family gives him mixed emotions.
It's a double-sided sword. It's nice but it also hurts a lot because sometimes I just want to talk to them, but I know they're busy. I want to see them. I want to talk to them. I just want some sort of physical communication with them. But since they're so far, I can't,” Holguin explained.
For UTEP student Sergio Salazar, he sees his friends posting about what’s going well in their lives.
“Tomorrow, I'm going to buy a new car. So happy about that,” Salazar gave as an example of a status of one of his friends bragging.
Which for those who aren’t having the same success, it can be difficult to read, and perhaps lead someone to feel down.
“I think that anytime you're using external factors to evaluate who you are, to evaluate the strength of who you are, those things have an impact on the way that you see yourself,” Pineda said.
“It's unlikely, in my mind, that Facebook by itself creates this depression but I think this is a much deeper physiological issue that has roots in a variety of issues. But absolutely, I think people will make comparisons to themselves. They will use that as a measuring stick. I think if there is any point in which they feel uncomfortable in the world around them, I think this is just one more point that they can say ‘Here's a reason why I don't like who I am because you know my friend is doing this, or this person is doing that," Pineda elaborated.
Which Holguin recognized, and used the social media site as a platform to seek help.
“I think for a lot of the time what I do is alienate myself from a lot of people. I'd kinda just push everyone away from me, and a lot of the time I'd think and wonder why I'm so alone all the time? When really I'm the one who is pushing people away. And then one day I decided, ‘You know what?’ Why not try to, go out there to see if someone will lend a hand?” Holguin said.
Santiago Reyes, 14, was that friend.
“I think of my life as it's, I'm doing good. I have a good family. I've never really had to suffer for anything. So when I see my friends so sad I just feel like I don't understand what he is going through. But if I can make him feel better and know I can make him feel, ok then,” Reyes said.
Links to sites about Depression: http://psychcentral.com/lib/10-ways-to-help-someone-whos-depressed/0004979

Special Assignment: Social Suffering
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