How Does Social Media Engagement Affect Self-Esteem?
Facebook and Instagram. These are two examples of social media used to help you connect with your friends, have fun, and feel good about yourself. Or are they?
Since the boom of social media, these platforms have turned from a place to find old friends to being about how many people you know and how much they like you. And, they’re starting to have an impact on people’s self-esteem.
Social Media Sets Unrealistic Expectations
When you update your status or send a tweet, you’re sending just a snapshot of your life, never the entire picture. People see the best and worst, and nothing in between. The mediocrity of life is left out and what’s left is exciting and shiny and new.
For the person sitting at home seeing all the shine, it’s hard to remember social media doesn’t show everything. It shows only the best highlights. This sets unrealistic expectations and feelings that others are better than you.
Social Media Leads to Constant Comparison
When you’re an active social media user, you’re constantly comparing yourself to others. Jane posts pictures of her shopping at Bloomingdale’s, and suddenly, you’re upset because you can’t go shopping at Bloomingdale’s. Steve gets a new job at a big corporation, and now you’re not so proud of your small non-profit. When you’re always facing other’s accomplishments and achievements, you think yours aren’t enough and become less satisfied with what you have.
Social Media Creates Grandiosity
Social media makes it easy to play pretend. People often over-emphasize their triumphs and make things appear better than they are through posts and pictures. Encouraged by likes, shares, and comments, this behavior feeds on itself and spins out of control. The consequences of this grandiose behavior are twofold. It impacts those who see the posts, decreasing their self-esteem because of how great everything is for the poster. It also affects the poster by allowing him or her to hide behind a social media mask, not letting people see what’s going on in life.
Social Media Increases Anxiety
Because social media is accessible at your fingertips, it encourages instant gratification and the need to be plugged in. There’s a constant need to know what others are doing and what they’re saying. You become afraid that you’re going to miss something, and this worry leads to anxiety. The anxiety in turn leads to more time on social media. Additional time on social media increases anxiety.
Social Media Gives a False Sense of Belonging
Just because someone has 1,000 Facebook friends and 2,500 Twitter followers doesn’t mean they’re not alone. Surrounded by social media, it’s easy to think you belong somewhere; after all, you had 437 likes and 162 shares on your last post. However, when you need a friend, a real friend, those likes and shares no longer matter. The stronger social media gets, the less in-person interactions you have and the lonelier you feel.
Is Social Media Affecting Your Self-Esteem?
If you’re unsure if social media is affecting your self-esteem, here are some things to watch for:
- Social media affects your mood
- Others make you feel bad about yourself or your situation
- Real life interactions make you uncomfortable
- You often feel envious of others
- You find joy in other’s misfortunes
- You seek social media attention and drama
If you’re starting to notice some of these signs, social media may be lowering your self-esteem. But if you focus your social media interactions towards close friends and family, you can see a positive change. People who primarily network with the people they’re closest to boost their self-esteem through social media.