How presenting a happy face(book) can help us cope
You hear people say it often enough: that on Facebook and other social media, we're not our true selves, warts and all. Instead, we make carefully crafted images of our lives --- an Instagram filtered portrait of the fun we're having, and the milestones we've reached.
Holly Elmore is a grad student at Harvard studying Evolutionary Biology. She says her life looked pretty good on Facebook. But behind all those positive posts she was struggling with depression. And crafting a positive image crafting on social media helped her cope. Holly wrote about her experience with depression for Quartz.
Holly's story challenges our assumptions about social media and how we can use social networks to help us during times of struggle. While she did seek professional help to deal with her depression, social media played an assistive role for her.
We got a sense of the potential to use social media this way last Spring when we spoke to MIT researcher Rob Morris. At the time, he was developing a social network platform called Koko to help people deal with issues like stress and depression.
Koko is now available as a free app. It's described as a social network that uses an innovative form of crowdsourced cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy teaches skills that challenge negative thought patterns and allow you to see situations more realistically. Rob said that a tool like Koko could reduce some of the stigma surrounding mental health.