When you confront negative feelings about yourself, it's easy to brush them off as an internal problem. But, scientists are finding many connections between the sites that keep us connected and low self esteem.
But what does it low self-esteem mean and how can we fight the struggle of feeling inadequate or lesser than? We have the answers to these questions right here.
High and Low Self Esteem
Self-esteem is the general opinion you have of yourself, most people think highly or lowly of themselves. There are a few people who have an opinion that reflects what other people think of them within reason, but it’s rare that people’s self-esteem is neutral.
High self-esteem means that you are confident in your decisions and generally feel good about your skill set. You might have weaknesses you worry about, but overall, you’re comfortable with any limitations. Many people see high self-esteem as a goal for happiness. While high self-esteem isn’t a guarantee on happiness, low self-esteem has strong connections to depression.
Is social media leading to depression or low self-esteem? Or, is social media only the newest medium for people with low self-esteem to further analyze themselves?
These are signs of low self-esteem:
- Don’t take credit for your work
- Apologize frequently
- Uses a lot of self-criticisms
- Difficulty accepting compliments or positive feedback
- Setup for failure (purposefully turning in assignments late, or missing important phone calls)
- Defensive, or overly sensitive to feedback
- Feeling insignificant
With these characteristics, it becomes easy to see how low self-esteem often progresses to depression or anxiety. But, you might also start to see the association between low self-esteem and social media.
Aspects of low self-esteem such as apologizing frequently, self-criticizing, and perfectionism are all addressed in multiple social media forums. While many people might defend that social media Is the place to receive validation for their efforts, others are finding that the pressures to be perfect out weight the possible benefits.
What is Validation and How Does Social Media Affect It?
We all need a bit of validation for ourselves, and it reinforces or changes our self-esteem. When you have high self-esteem, your needs for validation are very low. However, when you have low self-esteem, you need a lot of validation. Unfortunately, social media offers the illusion of validation.
The initial thought of using social media is that you will engage with people who are interested in your life, that you can’t make time for in real life. However, this slowly warps into a near obsession about how you portray yourself to others and which version of you is receiving the validation.
When you get a like, or comment, it has the same effect as a reward. You experience the same rush that you would get from a video game or piece of chocolate. But, as you create a more in-depth profile and spend more time behind the face of your profile, you may start to question who actually deserves the reward. Do you deserve it, or does your online-self deserve it?
Validation has pushed many people to superimpose their ideal self onto their profile. This false depiction means that most of the time you're only seeing the highlight reel of someone's life. But, this concept is hard to identify before it gets out of hand. When it comes to validation, the public attention begins to validate the existence of this "other" person.
If you post pictures of activities you did months ago or only post photos where you look your best, then you aren't receiving validation for your everyday life. It becomes an isolating cycle where users feel as if they shouldn't post anything if it doesn't make them look good or garner attention.
Many Facebook or Twitter users have that friend that always seems to be in an emergency situation, feels “ugly” or has something extremely controversial to speak on. Emergency situations happen, but it's not often that they happen to the same person on a near-daily basis. And yes, people have their "feel ugly" days where they need a little pick me up. Users are sure to have opinions on controversial subjects as well.
But, when it comes to validation, the question is, how much of these users’ posts are genuine interest and what is validation seeking? Social media has driven many people to see the best and the worst side of their friends and family all in the pursuit of validation.
The Connection Paradox
The paradox created through social media kills the connection that humans need and it preys on younger people. The concept behind social media was to connect and engage with people who were outside of your immediate circle. That you might be able to keep close ties with the friend who moved away after college or check in with a relative that you don't schedule the time to see.
But, instead, it's created a forum for people to see what aspects of other people’s lives that they’re missing. An example of this connection paradox is a friend who posts a photo of themselves with others at an event, and other people feel hurt that they weren’t invited.
In cases like this, there is the effect of breaking apart connections and making it uncomfortable to engage.
Young people are also discovering the issues of dating with the presence of social media. Suddenly a perspective date can find out about the person’s friends, social status, and recent emotional history before scheduling a date at all. People often use social media to gauge what sort of person they are about to meet.
Somehow, the goal of bringing people together has pushed people further apart than ever before. This paradox has a direct effect on people’s self-esteem. People with low self-esteem may feel that living up to their online persona is too much pressure. Online pressures will further drive home their feelings of isolation and low self-worth.
Should You Control or Abstain from Social Media for a Low Self Esteem
If you have low self-esteem, what is the social media solution? Many people believe that shutting down social media accounts will only further lead to isolation as well as a withdrawal period.
But, there is the option of control or moderation. It boils down to whether you can use social media as a tool or not. You could easily allow social media validation to take over hours of your day. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have consumed many people with low self-esteem.
When you’re looking at social media through the eyes of someone with low self-value the negative nature is front and center. Every like for someone else's photo is an acknowledgment that they didn't receive. If you are unable to use social media purely as a tool, it might be time to detox or give it up for good.
The question of controlling or abstaining from social media revolves around comparison. A person with low self-esteem is likely running a comparative analysis of themselves versus everyone that they follow.
This behavior is unhealthy. But, comparative analysis can be useful. Because social media is a digital log of a user’s posts, they can essentially conduct a comparative analysis on themselves.
Mental health experts advise people to keep emotional logs or mood journals. Social media is not private, and you wouldn’t be pouring your heart out into a nightly post. However, you can use the information and compare it to the current day. How did you perceive the number of likes you got on a past post? Was it a big deal then, and is it a big deal now?
Working on Self Esteem with Social Media
The connection between low self-esteem and social media leaves many people wondering how they can work on their self-esteem without completely getting rid of social media. It is possible.
To limit the likelihood of low self-esteem because of social media, you'll want to focus on following the right people. If your current feed is a stream of celebrities spending time in foreign countries and partying, you’ll be a bit deflated every time these posts show up.
Instead, follow close friends, family members, and people you share a direct connection to.
Another way that social media can help someone with self-esteem is to boost face-to-face time. You can use social media to schedule visits, and plan vacations. But, if you’re looking for a faster pick-me-up, you can chat with whoever is online.
What People See When They Sign In
There are too many stories focused on the negative events of the world that claim to be “news” just as there are too many people highlighting their worldly travels for everyone to feel good about where they are in life.
Most people see the life they wish they were living when they log in. It’s not restrictive, because travel bloggers often which they could spend time at home with the family, while stay-at-home moms dream of a week in the Bahamas.
The idea of building self-esteem is that you should feel good about yourself. Social media makes that nearly impossible because the best of everyone else is right in front of you.