By Stella Vasileiadou,
Despite all the benefits we are enjoying from using social media, unfortunately they have been linked to higher levels of envy, loneliness, anxiety, depression, narcissism, or even poor social skills. For instance, several studies conducted among people aged from 28 to 73 showed that:
1) 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way.
2) 50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationships.
3) While 80% reported that it is easier to be deceived by others through their sharing on social media.
Admit it. You find yourself checking out celebrities’ and influencers’ Instagram accounts and comparing them to you. “Why am I not beautiful enough?”, you whisper. Maybe it is high time you said goodbye to this harmful practice and gave yourself the love you truly deserve.
First of all, you are not doing anything wrong. It is completely normal to have reactions to what we are watching. But, try looking for a new angle: are people willing to post the worst pictures of themselves for everyone to see online? The answer is of course not. And how do they take so effortlessly nice pictures? Well, guess what. That “perfect” picture you just came across online had to be taken around 30 times (let alone the possibility of getting ready and going out only to take a photo to post on Instagram).
As a matter of fact, social media stands for a “magical” world, where what you consider to be flaws can be vanished (or erased) in just a matter of seconds. For example, you can edit how your figure looks: you are able to look as skinny or as curvy as you want. Do not worry, your acne can be fixed, too. The absolute goal is to satisfy your followers’ cravings and not let them down (and unfollow you!). This can be done by keeping the façade and showing off how fun and luxurious your life is.
In order not to let social media make you believe that you are inferior, you have to really understand what it actually means to be a human. We all have strengths and weaknesses, don’t we? We often experience the feeling of sadness, anger, loneliness, hurt etc. And this is okay. The fact, that we do not highlight our struggles, does not automatically mean that they do not exist. Having self-compassion does not require giving up and accepting yourself as an inferior individual. Instead, it means recognizing your struggles and becoming “friends” with yourself again. When you do pay attention to the parts of yourself that you appreciate, you will undoubtedly feel better about you and want to do what is best for yourself and only. Try meditating or even writing down what makes you remarkable and special. What do you value in yourself? Of what personal accomplishments are you proud of?
All in all, social media presents things in a way that makes them non-humanly achievable. Whether it be body image, food, lifestyle or events, their online image is more flattering than the reality. But either way remember that it is not only about social media, but about the way we direct our energy to them: our perspective. It is up to you to decide how to respond when distressing feelings come your way: you can fall back into old patterns and stay stuck; or you can choose to regroup and refocus.
- Social Media’s Impact on Self-Esteem, Huffpost, Available here.
- Social media is feeding your insecurities, The Forest Scout, Available here.
- Social Media Fosters Insecurity: How to Overcome It, Psychology Today, Available here.