Culture Clips: Social Media Can Cause Depression … but One Outlet Wants to Combat It, Too

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We’ve been reporting for a while that social media can bum you out. A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal bears that out. The study focused specifically on teens, and it found that teen girls that use social media more than two hours a day have higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts. In fact, researchers found that negative feelings can start to sprout after just 10 minutes of social media time—and the more time subjects spent with it, the worse they felt. And teens are apparently a bit stressed over what they post themselves, too—deleting Instagram posts almost as quickly as they post them.

So file this latest bit of news under both “gratifying” and “ironic:” Snapchat recently unveiled a new tool on its own social media platform that, It says, will help deal with mental health issues. The tool, titled “Here for You,” essentially feeds users information and advice from mental health experts if those users are searching the network for hot-button topics such as anxiety, bullying or suicide.

“We feel a real responsibility to try to make a positive impact with some of our youngest, sometimes most vulnerable users on our platform,” Jen Stout, Snapchat’s vice president of global policy, told Fast Company. “We know this is the first step of a lot of work we want to do to provide the right resources to our users.”

Of course, social media is hardly the only depressive trigger for youth. Another new study found that kids who aren’t particularly active are more likely to develop depression as they grow.

Dating can always be a source of stress as well, and a new online dating app called Hoop—open to anyone who’s 12 years old or older—makes it all the easier for adolescents to connect with each other … and potentially older users as well. (Characterized by some as “Tinder for teens,” this app may stress parents out even more than their kids.)

Indeed, sources for teen stress and depression can feel almost endless, leaving parents feeling rather powerless to know how to help. Christianity Today has some perhaps surprising advice: Listen to a little Billie Eilish. Her gloomy songs can offer a window into what teens are thinking and feeling. (It’s a subject we talked about on The Plugged In show, as well.)

Some female track athletes in Connecticut are experiencing a different sort of stress: How to compete against runners who were born boys but now identify as girls. Seems that two of those transgender athletes—Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood—have been dominating track-and-field events for years now, racking up wins in 15 girls’ state indoor or outdoor championships. Three girls have filed a lawsuit that would force transgender athletes to compete against folks of their own birth gender, rather than the gender they identify with, and both Miller and Yearwood are seeking to become defendants in what had been a more broad-based lawsuit.

Both gender and sexual relationships are growing increasingly fluid, of course, and increasingly visible in mainstream culture. Why, AppleTV+’s show titled Visible showcases LGBTQ celebs and (according to “their most formative TV moments.”  Meanwhile, HGTV’s wildly popular and largely innocuous show House Hunters, featured a “throuple” for the first time earlier this month. Brian, Lori and Angelica were all looking to find a house in (Plugged In’s hometown of) Colorado Springs for a “master bath that can accommodate three sinks.” Such relationships are becoming more common, and Christianity Today says that more polyamorist unions are even showing up in churches.

‘Course, it’s not just throuples barging into master suites. The Atlantic suggests that the decades-long ideal of the nuclear family—households made up of Mom, Dad, some kids, maybe a dog—has been a failure, leaving us feeling more lonely and detached, and with fewer role models to connect to. Multigenerational households are on the way back, and “co-housing” arrangements (homes that blend private spaces with communal environments) are increasingly in vogue, too.

Speaking of, um, co-housing arrangements, the Oscar-winning film Parasite showed a bit of a worst-case co-housing scenario. The Los Angeles Times recently published a story about the half-basement homes first featured in the film, while director Bon Joon-ho is being hailed as a hero by the South Korean press. At the other end of the Oscar glory spectrum, we have Avengers: Endgame, which set a record of its own. For the first time in history, the year’s highest-grossing movie went home completely empty handed. Alas, it’ll have to count the nearly $2.8 billion it earned worldwide to feel better about itself. That won’t stop The Eternals, an upcoming movie from Marvel, from resurrecting someone who didn’t live to see Endgame’s credits roll.

Finally, we all know that YouTube is kind of a thing. Lots of folks are making scads of money using the platform, and USA Today has even published a guide on how you can do it, too. We at Plugged In also have a tip for you. When you show off your workout skills, wear overalls. Oh, and be kind of old. That’s the secret of online fame for 91-year-old Alabaman Lloyd Black, who works out every day in his comfy, functional accoutrements. Why wear overalls to the gym? “I don’t have any hips and I can’t keep my pants up,” Black says.

As depressing as social media can be, you can find a denim-colored ray of sunshine every now and then.