Can social media crush your self esteem?

It is no secret that social networks promote the frustration of those people who often compare their lives with the lives of other users who show a lifestyle rarely compared to reality. This may damage your self-esteem.

This need to compare ourselves to others because what we see on screen is not a practice that favors our mental health, and today psychologists are asking that we approach social networks with caution and innovate instead nourishes Or home pages that provide us with knowledge and positive feelings.

We don’t just compare ourselves to those who have a better lifestyle than our own

Sabrina Laplante, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada, argues that there can be several types of comparisons. In addition to comparing ourselves to those who appear accomplished on social media, we also compare ourselves to people whose lifestyle isn’t amazing to feel better.

In times of pandemic, confinement has prompted us to consume more social networks and comparisons than before and FOMO (or Fear of getting lost Fear of losing experiences) is detrimental to our mental health. Although this may take a different direction, as we will tell you below.

Comparison and Social Motivation: Does Comparing Ourselves to Others Really Make Us Better?

Social comparison in social networks is one of the causes of anxiety and depression in young people. Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

According to a study conducted by the Ruhr University in Bochum in Germany, humans have a level of awareness of the differences between us and others which affects the level of social comparison.

Take, for example, a person with a superiority complex. When this person compares his life with the life of another Instagram user, the motivation to change is practically non-existent, so he will not do anything to improve aspects of his life.

On the other hand, a person who believes that he is inferior to others, comparisons are not considered a motive for change, because he believes that achieving the lifestyle he sees on the screen is something he cannot achieve. Thus, the self-esteem of such a person decreases more and more.

This interpretation is based on the concept of social comparison developed by Leon Festinger in 1954.

Comparing yourself to the false illusions we see on social media affect our mental health

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the second leading cause of disability-adjusted life years. This term refers to years lost due to illness and is used as a measure of life expectancy.

The saddest thing about all of this is that the people most affected by this are young people, who spend the most time interacting on social networks. According to 2015 figures, 90% of young people in the United States use social networks, and the majority of them at least once a day.

A group of teenagers standing, holding a mobile phone, looking at social networks.
Young people are the population most interacting with social networks, so they are the first to be affected by social comparison and its negative consequences. Photo: Creative Christians via Unsplash

Thus, since they are the ones who spend the most time on social networks, it is young people who have a higher level of social comparison, which can lead to self-esteem issues, sleep problems, cyberbullying and of course anxiety and depression.

what the subject is about? Mainly because not everything we see on social networks is reality. Our comparisons are often far from reality, if you don’t believe us, ask yourself how many attempts you had to make to get the perfect selfie.

An opportunity to turn social comparison into a pandemic

In his article, Laplante states that the pandemic can bring about interesting changes in the dynamics of social networks. It is clear that the tool itself is not passive, but in the use we give it. In this way, sharing our daily lives under the pandemic has been somewhat positive because it gives us a sense of belonging, seeing that we are all going through roughly the same experience.

At least that’s what researchers at the University of Core in Italy have done. The negative effects of comparison on social networks diminished during confinement.

More important to emotions, less to physicality

A woman sitting on the floor surrounded by a laptop and surrounded by books writing in social networks.
Sharing our emotions and feelings on social networks is a positive way to navigate the digital environment by sharing shared experiences to feel that we are not alone. Photo: Christina Wosintech via Unsplash

A good way to turn the negative of social comparison into a positive is to talk more about our emotions and personal projects than to focus on the superficial. Social networks are excellent tools for repeating information, it is convenient to use them with this intention to talk about what worries us or makes us feel sad, to find support in others.

That social networks can destroy our self-esteem? Yes, but it is possible to change this by taking better care of the accounts we follow and interact with, as well as using them more responsibly to talk about issues that contribute more to us as human beings.


How Social Media Can Crush Your Self-Esteem:

Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: a nationwide representative study among young Americans:

How social media use and social comparison affect mental health:

The role of online social comparison as a protective factor for mental health: A longitudinal study during COVID-19 quarantine:

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