Some things I've been thinking about regarding depression and the impact of technology.
|The idea of a depression forum is quite interesting. I admire the idea of being around people in the same boat, but the whole point of depression is that it’s a very self involved thing. Everyone’s so quick to talk about their own problems that the concept of a ‘forum’ (i.e. where discussion takes place) is lost.
What’s also remarkable is that there are people who actually want to be around others suffering from depression. Yes it’s good to feel like there are people who know how you feel, but depression is almost as infectious as a virus. Hearing about somebody else’s bad day can only really make you feel worse than you already do, and if you’re depressed in the first place then it’s hardly going to help. There’s only so much empathy you can give to another person before it just becomes draining. I know that when I was depressed, hearing about my friend’s ‘crappy’ day spent missing the bus or getting shouted at by a parent was the last thing I wanted to hear about, not compared to the hell that was permeating through my skull at the time. Of course, you always think your problems are worse than everybody else’s, so that sliver of empathy you can offer leaves something of a bitter aftertaste.
Now, I must clarify that I’m not saying that it’s unwise to join these things. I have so much appreciation for the virtual realm simply because it enables you to say whatever you like in whatever guise you wish to have. You can spill your secrets or build an entirely new persona, the choice is entirely yours. There’s no false pretences; everybody knows that this is a completely false reality, but for that short amount of time spent on the forums, or wherever else you may frequent, you have total existential freedom.
You can be the bloody Pope if you want.
This idea of autonomy is why I find it puzzling that of all the places you can go, all the personalities you can forge, some choose to spend their time in this magical world of fiction being miserable. I know that everyone deals with it differently but for me, I was happiest when I was tweeting as if I hadn’t a care in the world, or discussing the ‘big’ topics like the meaning of life on some forum or other. For me, the internet is the best form of escapism, and I know I’m not alone in thinking this.
The tricky thing is, however, that escaping your problems will only make them go away for as long as you’re online: after you switch the PC off you’re back to feeling worthless, miserable and alone. The thing about virtual reality is simply that it is virtual. There’s only so much living you can vicariously do through the internet; after a while the thought of embracing real life the same way you do so with your internet persona seems inviting yet impossible. I guess that’s where the internet comes in. Getting help only works if you’re willing to reach out for it, and although the virtual realm can only offer a metaphysical hand, the offer is still the same. It’s then that it helps to give you the push you need to sort your life out. It doesn’t matter where you get it from. On that level, the idea of having a place to ask for advice sounds ideal, and it’s definitely something that those suffering with disorders like depression should look into.
Depression will never completely go away, but we now have more tools than ever at our disposal to fight it. With technology on our side, we’re no longer alone.