Social media has become the new big “thing” of this generation. Almost everyone you talk to will have at least one social media profile, but many will most likely have more than just one. Think about it, there is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube, and countless others that someone can use. According to Mashable, there are over 3 billion social media users around the world. Not to mention, an average person spends around 2 hours per day on social media. However, the same Entrepreneur article states that teenagers spend about nine hours per day on social media!
Now, we have to ask ourselves why people are spending so much time on social media? Some may say that people have become addicted to social media, which may be true; however, we need to ask the question of why they have become addicted? Is it just because of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) or is there also a deeper, more serious reason to this social media addiction? Thus, in this article, I am going to explore how individuals have come to rely on social media to define and validate their self-worth within society.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, etc. all revolve around posting content, which is then liked, shared, and commented on by other users. Therefore, people are constantly updating their social media accounts on a day-to-day basis. For example, a user could post a morning selfie on Instagram, then tweet about what they had for lunch, and finally they can post a picture of themselves making dinner on Facebook. Individuals have made it a habit of posting their lives on social media and for some, it has become a need. Now, why is that? Why do people constantly update their social media statuses? Well, one answer may be because of instant gratification. According to Elite Daily, instant gratification is when someone feels a sense of happiness and satisfaction in a quick time frame, which can be seen when others interact with a person’s social media posts (like, comment, share). People get so caught up with how many likes their Instagram pictures get, or how many retweets their tweets get, or how many shares their Facebook posts get. It is a constant cycle that people get swept up in. They start to post more because they want to feel more instant gratification. They start to rely on social media to feel happy and liked by others. Their sense of self-worth and self-esteem becomes reliant on a click of a button from other online users. However, this is not healthy. People should not be relying on others for happiness or for their value to be determined by how many likes their last post received.
As a result of valuing ourselves through social media, we can start to see negative effects on our self-esteem. Research shows that using more than one social media platform can increase the likelihood of young adults reporting feelings of depression and/or anxiety (Time). Not only that, but according to some researchers, social media can negatively affect one’s self-esteem because social media creates unrealistic expectations (Time). People post content that make their lives appear to be so much better than they actually are, which can make others feel bad about their own lives. By constantly comparing ourselves to others on social media, it can really impact the way we value ourselves. For example, young girls can devalue their own body image by comparing themselves to other girls’ Instagram pictures. They might think that they are not as pretty as the other girls, which can significantly impact their self-esteem and their body image. Therefore, by comparing ourselves to others and their lives on social media, it can really hurt the way we value ourselves.
Additionally, if people start to become accustomed to linking their happiness and self-worth to vanity metrics on social media, what happens when some posts do not provide the anticipated results? For example, if a person were to post a selfie on Instagram and it only gets 5 likes instead of say 100, how would the individual perceive this? Most likely, they would start to question their beauty and their value. This is because they are not getting the validation and gratification that they were looking for by posting the selfie. Moreover, social media can easily wreck someone’s self-worth and happiness, if they continue to let vanity metrics of social media dictate their value within society.
In conclusion, social media can lead to various highs, but also it can lead to very negative lows. The vanity metrics of likes, comments, and shares can make us feel so good in the moment, but that feeling does not last forever. Social media then becomes a cycle in which people keep posting more and more content just to feel that second of happiness again and again.
So, my question to you is, have you fallen into this social media cycle?