Whenever you upload a selfie, what do you expect to happen? Do you expect to get plenty of likes and comments on how great you look? Does that make you happy, fulfilled and valued? What if you don’t get as many likes as you expected? Do you feel ugly and unattractive?
More and more women are using social media “likes” as a benchmark for their self-worth and this is something I completely disagree with, to the point that I actually abhor the thought of it. How can likes tell someone that they’re not good looking enough or sexy enough? How can the lack of likes make someone feel inadequate or invaluable in this world? While it is something I don’t completely understand, the problem is definitely real and it’s staring everyone in the face.
Let me tell you how full-blown this problem already is. In the UK, the University of Salford already did a study on the effects of social media on a person’s self-esteem and anxiety. There were 298 participants in the study and 50% of those believe that using social networks made their lives worse. How? For one, these people keep comparing their achievements to their online friends. These people also felt worried and anxious if they couldn’t access their social media profiles. Therefore, the study concluded that social media has a direct effect on a person’s self-esteem and anxiety.
Another study comes from the Columbia Business School and University of Pittsburgh. The main argument of the study was that positive comments obtained from social media actually boost a person’s self-esteem and can even influence a person’s behavior.
The University of Buffalo did some research as well. The research pointed out that women who upload selfies on social media are in fact seeking validation for their self-worth. These women will go to great lengths like finding the best angle to take photos, plan the best clothes to wear and find the best lighting. Not to mention, women photoshopping their own selfies just to look great in their photos.
This research and various studies are on point and they tackle a huge problem in self-esteem today. I will continue to ask why? How did our way of living revolve around the world of social media? Why are we succumbing to the pressures of social media? And the bigger question in my head is: Why do we allow social media to make us feel this way?
If you can recall, Dove did a commercial titled “Dove Real Beauty Sketches: You’re More Beautiful Than You Think,” and it showed how women are so hard on themselves particularly with how they look. While other people can see our inner and outer beauty, it is us who fail to do so. According to the survey done by Dove, 672 million of women around the world are their own worst beauty critic.
Teen model Essana O’Neil made one headline after another when she released her own expose on how social media changed her life for the worst. She shared that for three years, she’s been uploading her own photos to get approval from people in social media. The more likes, the more beautiful you are. The more followers, the more popular you are. The more famous you are, the more self-worth you have. This is coming from a teenager who realized that the world of social media is a sham and one’s self-esteem should not be based on what online people have to say.
You know what, I’m not trying to make it look like social media is evil here, I know it’s not. I’m actually a fan of social media because it’s a great way to communicate with friends, create networks and even keep tabs on your favorite celebrities and athletes. For me, that is what social media is for.
However, it is when people use it the wrong way that it becomes a huge problem. Think about it, Instagram was made with the purpose of allowing people to share photos to one another. Never was it Instagram’s goal to ruin a person’s morale. Sadly, it is us who did this.
I say, wake up people. It’s time to wake up not later, not after the 10-minute snooze, but NOW. I’m all for looking good and making the effort to look good, but it should be based on how you feel about yourself and not what others think. You may think that getting 1,000 likes for a photo proves that you’re a beautiful lady. But if you’re unhappy inside, even 10,000 likes won’t make you happy.
It’s going to be an endless cycle, putting up another photo to validate yourself and then uploading another one and another one. When will it end?
Let me tell you this. Social media will go on like this for as long as it can regardless if you become happier or sadder. But you, you have the power to end this.
Find happiness in valuable things—in the company of family and true friends, doing activities that you love, pursuing hobbies you’ve always wanted to do, meeting strangers at the café, getting to know people through face-to-face conversations, volunteering to help others and many more. There are so many things to do in life that can feed our soul and social media likes isn’t one of them.
How do you feel about social media? Let us know in the comments below!
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Originally posted on January 22, 2016 @ 4:42 PM