Does social media affect how we feel about ourselves

Written by: Forum Suru

Does social media affect how we feel about ourselves?

Social media has seen significant rise and has now become an integral part of its users’ life. It has given people an open platform to express themselves and form connections all around the world. However, just like a coin has two sides, so does social media. While social media helps with network formations, it has also been seen to consume a lot of time and energy of the users. This could hinder with people’s life.

How does social media affect one’s self-perception?

Self-perception can be described as how we view ourself based on our current habits, thoughts and behaviours.
Social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are some of the rapidly growing sites among young adults, where they share their personal information, achievements, activities and social relationships. Due to such massive availability of personal information, people often find themselves comparing with others, which can sometimes lead to development of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.
Unrealistic expectations about lifestyles, possessions, physical appearances and relationships are developed as a result of filtered or polished portrayals on social media platforms. With this increased competition to “look good” in front of friends and family, people often restrict themselves from sharing their true self online. This is also done to feel socially acceptable in society. With excessive use, over long time-periods this can have detrimental effects on one’s self-perception, self-image and mental health.
Researchers have shown that people who spend majority of their time on social media are more prone to facing a negative self-perception and emotional distress as compared to those who don’t use social media as much. Negative self-perception decreases one’s confidence and motivation.
Due to the exceedingly pervasive nature of social media, people may feel the pressure to continuously engage in or participate on social media to keep up with their peers. It can also seem unavoidable, for the fear of missing out on recent events, latest trends, information or conversations.
Excessive use of social media also leads to a phenomenon called social media burnout. This can be identified by -When a person has the constant need to check their social media, refresh pages and are unable to benefit from the content consumed, they are said to be experiencing social media burnout.
Frequent social media users such as adolescents, small business owners and content creators often reach the extent where they are extremely exhausted to use social media. This has increased even more since COVID-19 due to the urgent need to shift to online lifestyle. Social media burnout is also one of the leading reasons why people today feel they are inadequate, loose interest from socializing and constantly feel fatigued.

How to deal with it?

There are various things that can be done to use social media in healthy way:

1. Track the time spent on social media:

Majority of the smart phones and social media sites now come with a reminder to notify you the time spent on social media. Tracking social media usage also helps in identifying the activities one participates in and its impact on themselves.

2. Do not compare yourself to your peers online:

It is important to remember that social media is not always the complete reality may not give the whole picture. Keep in mind that the content on social media is highly posed, edited and filtered to showcase the “perfect life”. Appreciate and encourage your friends, but don’t beat yourself up. Acknowledge your small moments of joy too.

3. Take a step back from social media:

Everyone requires social media detox from time to time. Take a step back from social media whenever needed to have healthy mental health and an improved mindset.

4. Look for other hobbies:

Having a set of activities for your hobbies help to take your mind off social media. It not only provides a good distraction from social media but also helps in building some skills or help you relax or enjoy.

5. Follow people or content that help you grow:

It is very important to choose the right content to follow and use social media consciously.

6. Turn off social media notifications:

The social media pop- ups can be tempting to open. Turning off the social media notifications will help in avoiding it. The notification can always be checked according to your schedule without interruption in your workflow.

7. Confront your thoughts:

Take the time to acknowledge your negative feelings, emotions and thoughts and question their validity, if you are feeling low after using social media.

8. Celebrate victories:

While social media is commonly used to share victories/achievements online, you can always share celebrate them offline with friends and families. Make memories, while you cherish your accomplishments.

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