Over the last few years we have experienced a boom in social networking websites, with the most popular being Facebook and Twitter. These websites provide people with a sense of belonging, they allow them to stay connected with their friends and family and many people use social media to make professional connections. However, despite all the obvious advantages, social media technology has many negative effects.
For a large number of people, social media is part of their daily routine. However, many people on social media have a tendency to portray themselves and their lives in an unrealistic way in order to get approval of others and to promote their narcissistic behaviour. They have developed a sense of self that is largely dependent on others’ approval and in order to receive countless likes and complimentary comments they present altered impression of their personality and physical traits.
These people only post on social media positive versions of their reality in form of happy family photos, vacation photos, their career successes and happy relationship posts in order to feel good about themselves, to feel admiration of others and to fulfill their need for external validation.
Yet, we all know a few people who are not who they portray to be on Facebook. They have the need to bombard us on a daily basis with posts and ‘photographic evidence’ of their amazing lives, their astonishing relationships that are like something out of romantic movies, their unbelievable successes and their supernatural skills as parents. However, it’s essential to point out that not so positive information about their lives and relationships has either been edited or omitted by them before being shared on social media. You won’t find posts on their Facebook page about their everyday struggles, their boring jobs and the vast amounts of arguments they have with their partners .
As a result, Facebook and other social media are one of the reasons why many people are dissatisfied with their lives. After reading other people's posts they start to critically compare their lives and their own accomplishments against others. They begin to use those posts as measures for their own successes and failures, as well as their popularity, and they start to worry about their own status amongst their friends if they don’t receive the same amount of likes or birthday greetings on their Facebook page as their friends.
Subsequently, seeing other people’s filtered versions of reality backed up by posts, status updates, pictures and videos makes them be overly critical of their lives and their physical appearance. They start to feel envious of all those popular and amazing people with impressive lives and they begin to question whether they will ever be able to achieve the same as them.
Consequently, there seems to be a correlation between social media use and depression, low self-esteem, feeling inadequate and body image insecurity. Social media put many people under a huge pressure to be perfect and to have a large group of friends. Seeing edited photos of people we know with added filters and effects increases the pressure to have exciting lives, to look perfect and to have a body to die for.
These are all ridiculously high standards that can’t be achieved and it’s impossible to achieve them as the truth is that this idea of who we have to be, what we have to look like and what our lives should be like is based on idealized versions of some people who only show what they want to show on social networking websites and what they chose to show has either been edited or does not reflect the reality of their lives. Therefore, don’t think less of your own lives and yourself because of someone else’s misconstrued sense of reality and don’t allow their filtered reality to determine your sense of worth.