With the rise of celebrity endorsements and the more frequent use of editing apps on pictures it comes as no surprise to me that social media has a tendency to impact us negatively. After studying self esteem and living my life online I’ve come across the main ways that using these platforms can hurt us and ways to combat them.
Social comparison is a psychology theory that I studied in a research lab in college. When you compare yourself to someone doing “worse” than you, it can make you feel better. If you compare yourself to someone you think is doing “better” than you, it can cause you to feel worse about yourself. In a space where most are concerned with showing them living their best life it’s hard to keep sight of what is real and that’s dangerous.
Following a bunch of insta famous people or even people you know can really take a toll on how you perceive yourself so it’s important to remember social media is not real life. Take a step back and know that no life is perfect 100% of the time.
Snapchat filters are a cute way to use social media and come in handy on those bad skin days but there are downsides to it as well. People are having surgery to look like their Snapchat selfies. And while it’s better that people want to look like more enhanced versions of themselves instead of completely different people, what does this mean for society and for the children growing up with these apps? Constantly using these filters can make you feel unhappy with the way your actual face looks.
Flexing gone too far
Have you ever bought a drink at a cafe just for the picture? Or maybe asked your friend to take a “couple more” too many times? Trying to maintain the perfect social media image can become exhausting and change your habits in ways you might not even notice. Research from students in my Fashion Psychology program has shown that bloggers tend to enjoy outings less because they’re worried about getting the perfect picture. We’re so focused on an app that we can’t even enjoy life!
Social media isn’t going away anytime soon so it’s important that you take care of yourself if you choose to indulge.
Here’s my tips for using social media responsibly:
Limit your use. I try for less than an hour a day or to only use it when I’m posting. I’m not always successful but it’s a start.
Don’t follow people that make you feel bad about yourself!
Slow down on the filters. I’m not saying never use them but maybe try for a couple times a week at best. Snapchat’s not as fun anyway!
Engage with accounts that align with your views. Personally, I think it’s irresponsible for celebrities to post ads from companies they haven’t actually used or that promote a bad message. If I see this I unfollow. (I don’t need Kim K telling me I should have appetite suppressant lollipops.)
Don’t feel the need to be completely transparent. Twitter especially has a tendency to go through what some have called the struggle olympics. You are not obligated to talk about your hardships for engagement, not even if a media outlet is asking. Share what you want to share.
Put the phone down. I know it’s hard but take a day with no social media. Go out to a concert and just have fun instead of feeling the need to Live the whole event. Don’t let life pass you by because you were more worried about your stories.
At the end of the day, these are just apps. Protect your mental health and your privacy.