Technology is often blamed for social isolation and increasing unemployment as self-checkers and robots replace front line library staff. But technology and the digital, the theme of this month’s GLAM Blog Club, can also bring happiness. Based on the interviews I conducted with 19 women who have bipolar disorder these are four digital happy things that can bring a smile to people who are feeling anxious or depressed:
- Facebook: Facebook has copped some pretty bad press from privacy breaches to cyberbullying but for women with bipolar disorder Facebook can be a lifeline. It helps them to keep in touch with friends during episodes of depression when they don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to meet face to face. One of my participants even created a Facebook page to help others understand the lived experience of bipolar disorder, its symptoms and treatments.
- Podcasts: Several of my interviewees said how much they loved listening to podcasts. Podcasts made them feel like they were learning at the same time as being able to relax and take a break. Some podcasts about happiness are: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, By the Book (which roadtests self-help books) and Happy Melly (which talks about happiness in the workplace).
- Instagram: Instagram is often the scapegoat for life envy and bad body image but participants in my research saw Instagram as a creative outlet. They could follow people who post nature pictures or inspirational quotes. They could also curate their own feeds, creating beautiful pictures that helped to make them feel more hopeful and optimistic.
- Ebooks: Many participants liked reading and mentioned ebooks as being convenient as well as easy to travel with. Several of my participants were studying and found ebooks a good way to access information without having to trek in to the university library.
So that’s four digital happy things from 19 women who I talked to about happiness and bipolar disorder. What are your digital happy things?