A British study recently stated that the more time people spend online, the more depressed they tend to be...
"There was a high correspondence between the amount of time spent on the internet and levels of depression," said study leader Dr. Catriona Morrison. "If you look at how dependent people feel they are on the internet, that is likely to correspond with how happy or sad they feel."
Now I'm not saying that you should be online all day and all night. Doing an impression of Clara in "The Guild" and locking your kids in a corral so you can play World of Warcraft for hours on end -- we can all agree that's bad. And sure, "normal social interaction" as defined by this study probably is necessary to being a well-rounded, well-adjusted member of society. But let's not make the computer, or rather social networking on the computer, the bad guy here.
I'm no stranger to depression. It started in my teens, as it likely does for most people, and continues to linger like the scent of burnt toast in one's kitchen. It predates the Internet and texting and Facebook, and back then I either found my escape in books or in drawing. Then one chilly January night, I signed on to Prodigy. And I made friends. Ones that could quote Monty Python and MST3K with equal alacrity, ones that lived a few counties away or several time zones away, ones that encouraged my creativity.
I was accepted. I wasn't judged. I didn't spend an entire conversation mentally worrying about the way my hair looked or if my clothes were fashionable or if the words were running through my head too fast for my lips and causing me to stutter and sound like an idiot. Communication was carried out through the written word, and it was beautiful. I could be the articulate, intelligent young woman that I wanted so badly to be.
Eventually we have to come back to the real world. We have to work, to pay bills, to feed our families, to share the despair of the latest calamity around the globe. But for the time that we are online, we're free. We can be the best version of ourselves, and we can find people willing and able to share the human experience with us. Friendships that I have made online are ones that I will cherish forever because they come from a place of truth. It's not about the facade or fitting in; it's about finding people that accept you as you are. And that's not depressing at all. That's hopeful.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go discuss the "Lost" premiere with my friends on the Galactic Watercooler forum.