All posts by ashleyhocking

Comparing yourself with others on social media can lead to feelings of depression

By Ashley Hocking

During the 83 days between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, I opt not to log on Facebook.

Why?

This stretch of time is also known as Engagement Season.

It’s nearly impossible for me to scroll through the feeds of my social media accounts during Engagement Season without seeing twentysomethings posting about their significant others popping the question, bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings.

Forty percent of engagements occur during Engagement Season, according to the Associated Press.

I’m not the only one who elects to avoid social media at certain times of the year. University of Kansas senior Megan Doolittle decided to avoid social media on Valentine’s Day after a recent breakup.

“I’m pretty sure he or his new girlfriend would have posted something, and I would have seen it,” Doolittle said. “It’s really hard when you’re in the midst of a break-up or even just feeling negative about your love life.”

Social media is a modern day tool that enables individuals to connect with friends, but also impacts the wellbeing of those using it.

Social media may help us connect with friends, but it also can depress the hell out of us.

Social media depression is the act of comparing yourself with others based on their on social media accounts.

Research by David Baker and Dr. Guillermo Perez Algorta from Lancaster University in Lancashire, England found that there is a significant association between feelings of depression and negatively comparing oneself with others when using Facebook.

Doolittle agrees with the findings of this research.

“Seeing how other people portray themselves on social media can affect you in a negative way,” Doolittle said. “It can cause a huge comparison effect and make you feel bad about yourself.”

Doolittle’s mom advised her to take a break from social media after seeing the negative effects it had on her daughter. Doolittle deactivated her Facebook account and deleted the Instagram app off of her phone.

“Social media is very toxic,” Doolittle said. “You’re almost all the time better off without it.”

Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing, according to a 2017 survey by Time Magazine of 1,500 teens and young adults. This survey found that Instagram was associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and fear of missing out.

Social media depression and negative feelings associated with comparisons were some of the key factors that made Doolittle decide to scale back on her social media usage.

“When you look at someone’s social media, it seems like they have everything. They have a good job, a happy significant other, good grades, money and fun vacations,” Doolittle said. “Seeing other people are in a really cool location and you’re not there sucks. They’re going to this fun place, and I’m here just lying on my couch.”

Jeffrey Hall, an associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, said that social media posts tend to focus on the positive moments in a person’s life. Hall is the author of over 40 articles and book chapters on flirting, relationships, social networking and Facebook.

“It’s not as normative to post negative things on social media,” Hall said. “You’re less likely to use social media to gain social support if you feel lonely or blue, than to advertise positive things.”

According to Hall, there are many people who consider curtailing their social media usage.

“Interestingly, a lot more people say that they would be interested in taking a break from social media than people who actually do,” Hall said.

Despite its negative connotations, people can use as a tool to combat feelings of social media depression. Researchers stress that social media can help people with depression if it is used as a mental health resource or a way to enhance social support.

“It’s very possible that you might turn to social media because you might feel like it might help to lift depression,” Hall said.

 

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How It Feels . . . To Get In A Car That Is Not Your Uber

By Ashley Hocking

Recent University of Kansas graduate Jacey Bishop was studying abroad in Europe and visiting Rome for the weekend when she accidentally got in a car for a ride to the airport that turned out not to be an Uber. She quickly realized her driver didn’t speak any English, and she had no idea where he was taking her.

I got into the backseat of a black SUV that looked like all of the other taxis in Rome. I was in a crowded town square with two of my friends, as taxis and Ubers that all looked the same lined up to pick up their passengers. It was rush hour, and the cars behind us were honking.

I told the driver our destination was the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport, in case he hadn’t looked at what we had entered on the Uber app. He turned around and looked at us with a confused expression. He rapidly started speaking in Italian, and I did not understand a word he said. I kept saying the word “airport.” Eventually, he put his foot on the gas pedal.

About five minutes into the hour-long car ride, my friend Rachel got a phone call. The man on the phone said he was the Uber driver that she had ordered and that he couldn’t find us at the town square. I felt my heart drop because I realized we had gotten into a car that wasn’t even an Uber.

A flashback of the movie “Taken” rolled through my head. I began to assume my friends and I were about to get scammed out of a lot of money, kidnapped or worse.

I took my phone out of my pocket and began to track our location. I realized we were heading in the right direction, which slightly reassured me.

The driver kept speaking to us in Italian and sending questioning looks over his shoulder. I glued my eyes to our moving location on the screen of my iPhone, while my friends tried to communicate with our driver using hand gestures.

After the longest hour of my life, we pulled up to the drop off lane of the airport.

My friends and I pulled together all the euros we had in our wallets. I gathered up the bills, which amounted to 90 euros, and handed them to our driver. He seemed grateful that we paid him for his time and gas. We grabbed our bags and made a beeline for the doors of the airport.

As soon as I passed the threshold of the building, I let out a sigh of relief. I knew that we overpaid our driver, but I wanted to do anything I could to ensure that my friends and I got out of that car quickly. I thought it was remarkable we were able to get to the airport with a man who did not speak an English and definitely was not an Uber driver.

I made a silent vow to myself to never get in another Uber again without checking the license plate number first.

-As told by Jacey Bishop

KC Star editor gives a voice to community members

Derek Donovan.

Derek Donovan, a Kansas City native, has worked at the Kansas City Star for over 21 years. In his current role as the Community Engagement Editor, Donovan strives to provide a voice to members of the community on the opinion pages of the newspaper.

“I really like trying to balance a variety of viewpoints,” Donovan said. “I like trying to let people see their own points of view in the paper and on the website.”

As Community Engagement Editor, Donovan coordinates the opinion editorial page and the letters to the editor, solicits guest columns and letters, chooses the syndicated columns that are published in the newspaper, manages social media accounts for the editorial board, serves on the editorial board and writes editorials.

“I’ve talked to thousands of people who cared enough about The Kansas City Star to make their voices heard,” Donovan wrote in an article for the Kansas City Star.

Donovan has called Kansas City home not only for the past two decades, but for nearly his entire life. He grew up all over the Midwest, but calls Kansas City his home.

Donovan has been the Community Engagement Editor for the past four months. Before that, Donovan held a number of different positions at the Kansas City Star, including library researcher, project researcher, public editor, ombudsman and newsroom social media director.

“I actually wanted to be a professional researcher and an academic,” Donovan said. “That was really where I thought my career was headed. There’s a lot of overlap between research and journalism obviously.”

When Donovan served as the Kansas City Star ombudsman, he was able to give a voice to readers by printing their opinions and concerns in the newspaper. As ombudsman, he also learned to hold the organization he worked for accountable for what it publishes.

“I always said in my old role as ombudsman that it was my job to point out when readers were right about when the Star was wrong,” Donovan said. “Nobody ever told me not to do that. If I went to work for Apple or Kraft or something, what I would have to do for a living would be to explain why my employer is always right … Journalism is the opposite of that, and I really like that.”

Donovan uses his past experiences as an ombudsman and a researcher to hold the publication he works for accountable and to shape his moral compass.

“Every day I come to work, and the only directives that we ever really have are to try to publish the truth and to try to be fair,” Donovan said.

Donovan had not always planned on becoming a journalist. He originally planned to become an art and theater professor.

“At the last minute, I decided not to do my Ph.D.,” Donovan said. “Instead, I found a job working in the library here at the Star, in the research library for the newsroom. One thing lead to another, and eventually, I started running the research library. And that’s how I ended up in the current role.”

He studied communications and French at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. He also earned his Master’s of Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas.

Donovan advises journalism students to do an internship during their collegiate years.

“I was just having this conversation with one of my colleagues yesterday that getting an internship is going to help you get clips,” Donovan said. “Having clips is by far the most important thing in getting a job in journalism.”

After spending the past 21 years working in the newsroom at the Kansas City Star, Donovan’s drive to fairly report news as well as to represent community voices in the op-ed section of the newspaper has not faltered.

“This industry has changed so vastly much over the past 20 years,” Donovan said. “I have always been committed to trying to find the best fit of what I can do to be the best part of this newsroom.”

Gallery: Spring football game

Jeremiah Booker, a junior wide receiver, gets ready run past a player on Team Jayhawks during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
D’Andre Thomas, a junior safety, runs onto the field after halftime during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Joe Dineen Jr., a redshirt junior linebacker, gets ready to tackle a player on the other team during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Kyle Mayberry, a sophomore cornerback, prepares to run during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Daylon Charlot, a sophomore wide reciever, tries to run past sophomore cornerback Julian Chandler during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley passes the football to junior runningback Taylor Martin during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley prepares to pass the football during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Tyrone Miller Jr., a junior safety, sprints on the field during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Runningback Taylor Martin looks for the ball during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Junior linebacker Denzel Feaster tackles junior runningback Taylor Martin during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Sophomore wide reciever Daylon Charlot attempts to run past a player on the other team during the spring football game at Memorial Stadium on April 14. Team Jayhawks won, 14-7.
Sophomore cornerback Julian Chandler prepares to run across the field during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Freshman offensive lineman Chris Hughes blocks players on the other team during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Kellen Ash, a senior defensive tackle, tackles a player on Team KU during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Carter Stanley passes the football during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Jacob Bragg, a junior offensive lineman, gets ready for a snap during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
J.J. Holmes, a junior defensive tackle, blocks junior offensive lineman Larry Hughes during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Bryce Torneden, a sophomore safety, gets ready for the play during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyriek Starks catches the football during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.
Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji blocks a player during the spring football game at Memorial Stadium on April 14. Team Jayhawks won, 14-7.
Coach David Beaty makes a call during the spring football game on April 15 at Memorial Stadium. Team Jayhawks won 14-7.

Kansas Board of Regents Picture

111916_topeka_ashley-hocking-14
The Kansas Board of Regents is the governing board of the state’s 32 public higher education institutions. The Kansas Board of Regents building is located in Topeka. Ashley Hocking/KANSAN

I am a photographer for the University Daily Kansan. I took this picture of Kansas’ Board of Regents building on Nov. 19, 2016. It was published on the Kansan’s website.