This week I have been a little distant from social media. That’s not to say I haven’t been on it because I have. I use it for work so I don’t really get to take major breaks off social media even if I wanted to. What have I been distancing myself from? The wonderful and extremely exciting lives that a lot of people seem to portray. I wanted to test if there really is a correlation between social media and self-esteem (in my very unscientific way of course) and I wanted to see if I, personally was a lot happier when I paid less attention to what others are doing or say they are doing on social media. What are your experiences with taking time off social media? Do you think one’s self-esteem and use of social media can have a correlation?
Now, as I said, my findings and feelings are unscientific to a large extent but here are a few of my thoughts on “Social Media and Self Esteem”
1. Social Media and Depression. I did not do extensive research on facebook and depression but I did find some interesting articles saying that there is a correlation in teens. The hypothesis is that because reality is skewed on social media, teens who do not measure up to the “fun, happy and thrilling” lives of their peers on facebook may bring about depression. (Read more about it here.) I think that while adults may be better able to rationalize that facebook reality is skewed, I don’t think they are necessarily excluded from the possibility of facebook depression. Furthermore, the lack of real live human interaction is something that most of us agree may not be good for our mental health, or our self-esteem. (Mental health and self-esteem are not the same thing but I still found this interesting.)
2. “The Pollyanna” and “The Liar.” While there are people on my social media accounts who I look forward to because they always have something positive to say or are always encouraging people to look on the bright side, whom I lovingly term “The Pollyanna,” there is also “The Liar.” Who is “The Liar?” That person who is always trying to make-believe that their life is the stuff made of an exciting thriller or sappy chick-flick. Seeing as most of my peers just graduated college, I happen to know, like me, you have a lot of things on your mind, including bills, making friends if you’re in a new city, keeping your old friends, whether you really love your career path, etc. Whilst The Pollyanna lifts Spirit, the Liar tries to prove to others (and even themself) that they are living the Hollywood lifestyle. If you are The Liar, I hope you realize that not only does that reflect that you may have self-esteem issues but that your fibs may well be doing damage to someone else’s especially those who don’t know that some people in fact do lie about how awesome their lives are. It’s not an either/or situation but I think we all need a little self-reflection in this respect.
3. Social Media Overkill. Now, I’ve been accused of tweeting too much so I’m not going to play innocent (Well, I manage social media…sorry it’s part of my job). But I am referring to people who feel the need to tell every single detail of their life -what they are eating, when they are eating, why they are eating, how they gargled after brushing their teeth, etc (You get the point). For the most part, though I am an avid social media user, I maintain a private life on private matters, both online and offline, so maybe this is more of a personal irritation. Still, be it far from me to tell anyone what to do on THEIR social media, but I have to wonder, does telling everyone about your every thought, every word, every act, make you feel important? If you think it does, that’s when you have to re-evaluate your virtual life and turn the computer off (and call a friend and tell them about your day).
Now, some of what I say is harsh but I am not trying to sugar coat how I feel about this issue. If you can help it (i.e. you don’t suffer from medical depression or any other mental illness in which case you need to seek help if you aren’t already), take control of how you perceive yourself on social media and realize what it does to you or your self esteem, whatever that is. If you need a break, take it. If you need to delete some people from your timeline or newsfeed, do it. I have had a great time not paying attention to others this week because quite frankly with how hard this week has been, I do not need to know how extraordinarily wonderful anyone’s life is (false or not). It’s not that I’m not happy for you if you’re getting all you want; it’s that right now, I’m in the “trying to make it” phase, so sometimes things seem more tough than not. Thus, I can’t always relate to social media portrayals of “its a wonderful post-grad life.” It’s that I know some of you are lying, because I happen to know some of you (and your friends) personally. It’s that I am blessed with a self-esteem (and intelligence) to not measure my real life with another’s virtual life.
In conclusion, NO ONE really identifies with the perfect lives that some of you are trying to portray on social media. So if you really want to feel awesome, try being sincere. Self-esteem comes when that picture of how you see yourself and how others see you start to resemble each other…but that only comes from keeping it real, online and offline. My 2 cents.