Social Media Vs Self-Esteem

A decade ago, if a provocative picture of a woman would surface on the internet, it was humiliating and shameful. In today’s digital age, this would be rewarded with “likes”, comments and additional friend requests. We equate this attention received with approval of self-worth. Social media sites are notorious in affecting one’s self esteem.

Self-esteem is defined as an individual’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth.

 The most common social media sites are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Sites that allow you interaction with people from across the world and provide an opportunity to be known internationally with minimal effort. This type of popularity is addictive. So engaging in any behavior that increases your popularity is encouraged. Be it in the form of half-naked pictures or rants on topics that are controversial enough to attract attention, even if the content is not entirely true.

People place much value on the feedback they receive on social media by the means of likes or followers or retweets. There is a high sense of satisfaction gained when a picture or status of yours becomes popular if not viral. Any chance to be defined or known as “someone” but very seldom is that someone actually the true you.  Research has proven that majority of feedback via social media is negative.

The more virtual friends you have from these various channels, the more popular you seem. More often than not, false connections are formed which make it difficult to distinguish between real life connections and casual relationships created on social media. This is the worst kind of relationship as it could be a false sense of emotional connection via social media as the context of this can be heavily misconstrued. This may not be the case across all interactions, but it definitely portrays the wider frame of it.

In the 1950’s, Psychologist Leon Festinger proposed a theory called “Social Comparison Theory”. This states that we judge our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others.  With the aid of social media, we are given the opportunity to judge and compare ourselves to others all the time. Whether it be on a wealth, attractiveness, success or popularity scale, we are always comparing. The consensus is that everyone else always “seems” to have a better life, car, husband/wife and/or children. Whatever you may have achieved personally, through your hard work and dedication, will usually fall short of the perceived idea of the next person’s life. People use social media as their platform of free expression. For many, we tend to portray ourselves in the best possible way. Emphasising or exaggerating the good and neglecting any sign of distress, sadness or despair.  This is not a true reflection of life itself. We default to thinking that everyone else has an amazing life and that we are not on par with them. We do not take the time to process what we have endured and have grown resilience to. What we accomplish in life all seem irrelevant when comparing ourselves to another.

What makes life so unique is the ability to conquer our trials and tribulations and growing into the person, our hardships shape us to be. The worst judgement and critique we can ever face, is from ourselves.  The way in which we judge ourselves is directly related to the interaction and feedback from others.

 The reflected appraisal process concludes that people come to think of themselves in the way they believe others think of them (Mead, 1934; Cooley, 1902; Sullivan, 1947).

With so much emphasis placed on what others think of you, there is very little room to establish what you think of yourself. This behavior tendency stems from society. The fear of not being accepted by others. Depression and other negative emotions are the result of such fears. We attract depression and negativity far more easily by conforming to the digital age lifestyle as we become more susceptible to online or cyber bullying . Social media is addictive nonetheless.

My word for the week is:

INTROSPECTION!  INTROSPECTION! INTROSPECTION!

Take the time to get to know who you are and what you stand for. Allowing the opinions of others to define you and your life makes your quality of life poor. Nobody should have the right to influence your self-esteem/worth.  Choosing to indulge in the virtual world without acknowledging when it influences you negatively is a choice.

The same way you are choosy with your selfies, become choosy with your life choices. You are the priority of your life. You are the commander in control.

Chose YOU!