Social Media Is Redefining ‘Depression’ – Anne-Sophie Bine – The Atlantic

Social Media Is Redefining ‘Depression’ – Anne-Sophie Bine – The Atlantic

The article linked above is worth a read. Actually, please read it if you haven’t already.

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I was starting to consistently get upset whenever someone says “I’m so depressed” in contexts that have nothing to do with the medical condition. At one point, I got uncharacteristically melodramatic on Twitter: “It either (A) trivializes the suffering of the clinically depressed (does the lack of job offers make you wish you’re dead every morning?), or (B) it disregards the very unique nature of the emotional and psychological trauma in the clinically depressed.” Sometimes you’re depressed, other times you’re just really upset. I’m not trying to downplay how agonizing  the latter can be (no one can deny how soul-crushing the sickness or death of a loved one is),  but they’re two completely different things, but I’ll save that for another post.

A well-meaning friend (thanks, R) reminded me not to take it personally as there isn’t any malicious intent. And I totally agree. People who say “that’s so gay” aren’t necessarily homophobic, and most people who say  “I got raped by the test” have no intention of offending former rape victims (racist jokes, however, is a whole other can of worms). But I also want to add that while the absence of malicious intent takes off some of the sting, there’s definitely room for education. In such cases, I believe people would want to be aware of how they’re unwittingly upsetting others. And to avoid making such remarks in the future is a show of basic respect for others. It also shows that you have  greater regard for other people’s feelings than for convenience of speech.

If the potential to hurt feelings isn’t compelling enough a reason for anyone, surely the potential to harm lives is. The Atlantic article linked above warns against the flippant usage of the word “depressed/depression,” and also against glamorizing mental suffering (think ’emo’ blogs/posts). Romanticizing and/or trivializing clinical depression (and other forms of mental illness)  is as just as harmful as silencing* it.

TL;DR: It’s about time “depressed” joins “rape” and “gay” in the list of Words We Should Stop Throwing Around.

*(don’t forget Sinead O’Connor’s appeal to Miley Cyrus)


2 thoughts on “Social Media Is Redefining ‘Depression’ – Anne-Sophie Bine – The Atlantic”

  1. Oh my i fully agree with you! I was just having a conversation about this with a friend last week, and it all sparked off from how people on social media kept trivializing these (for the lack of a better word) mental conditions….especially OCD/depression. It’s quite unfortunate but I don’t think it’s a lack of tactfulness but just well, people are desensitized to the use of the label without actually knowing what it really entails in clinical terms. I’m a victim of that myself…



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