We live in a world that is inundated with social media. It has grown tremendously over the past decade. It pervades every corner of our society. Everywhere you look there is another social media website popping up: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat. People are constantly engrossed in their electronic devices: phones, tablets and laptops.
There are positive aspects of social media, such as keeping in touch with friends and family, especially ones who might live far away. There are also some negative aspects that we should be aware of. Many people are starting to ask the question, “What are some of the psychological long term effects of social media on one’s self-esteem”? Social media can breed insecurity when we are using it as a platform to compare ourselves to other friends or even friends of friends.
Using social media to determine your self worth by obsessively comparing yourself to someone’s perfect Facebook photo or constantly reading their exciting posts can actually be detrimental to your mental health. A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that many people suffer from “Facebook envy”. They found that those who abstained from using the popular site reported that they felt more satisfied with their lives.
Social media is designed to exhibit only the best moments of one’s life. People post pictures of happy moments with their romantic partner, selfies of a perfectly toned bikini body, and family snapshots in tropical locations such as Tahiti or the Maldives. The truth is we don’t know anything about what lies beneath the surface of that photograph. The actual reality of that moment that was captured in time may have been nothing like what it appears like in the photograph. Who knows, what looks to be the world’s happiest couple may have been arguing minutes before the photograph was taken. We do not know what is really happening in their lives. We only see the picture that they have painted for us. In her article, The Negative Effect of Social Media on Self-Esteem, Alyssa Mairanz speaks to this when she says, “As you are scrolling through your news feed and it is one post after the next of all these exciting things, it is easy to start feeling badly about yourself”.
Mairanz offers tips for not letting social media negatively affect your self-esteem.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. According to Mairanz, “It’s a very dangerous game when you start such comparisons. This especially applies to social media: what someone chooses to show on these sites is not reflective of a true reality”.
- Change your mindset. Don’t use social media as a tool to measure your self-worth. Your value is intrinsic and it cannot be determined by comparing superficial things.
- Limit the amount of time that you spend on social media sites. This tip comes from Anna Zhukova, author of “7 Negative Effects of Social Media On People and Users”. The recommended amount of time you should spend on social networks is no more than half an hour per day.
It’s important to be aware of what you are using these social media sites for and the amount of time you are spending on them. Remember to monitor your screen time, as well as your feelings after using the site. Try not to get too engrossed in the world of social media competition!