Featured photo by William Iven
For some people, social media is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then again, ordinary sliced bread isn’t so good for people with celiac. Point is, no matter how great a thing is, there are always a few downsides. What’s great for you is poison to someone else. Look no further than your medicine cabinet to discover tangible evidence for this idea.
So it is with social media. Just as sleeping pills become a bad thing when mixed with alcohol, social media becomes a bad thing when mixed with low self-esteem. The results of that bad mix can be clinical depression, anxiety attacks, even death.
Why Low Self-Esteem Hurts a Positive Social Media Presence
While this may appear alarmist at first glance, the picture becomes clearer when one considers that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young people. According to the Bullying Statistics website, half of those deaths are related to bullying, and cyber-bullying from social media is the most prevalent type. Beyond bullying, here are a few reasons why social media and low self-esteem don’t mix:
Residential alcohol treatment centers across the country are filled with people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, much of which can be traced back to social media. Electronic devices like smartphones and laptops are not allowed. As one provider put it:
The standards may seem rigorous, but they have a purpose: We want to create the best possible atmosphere for a safe, comfortable, and effective treatment experience.
Left unsaid is the fact that social media is one of the biggest purveyors of alcohol-related advertising and social imagery. So common is alcohol on social media that images of you partying and pictured with alcohol is no longer a detriment to potential employment. It’s everywhere on your Facebook wall, and your friends’ wall, and on liked pages, and brand favorites. There’s no getting away from it on social media.
Social Media Comparison
If you have low self-esteem, you will be thoroughly convinced that everyone in your social media feed is having a better time than you. This impression can lead some to overcompensate. There is a fine line between a good time and alcohol addiction. The person with low self-esteem trying to keep up with the social media Jones is sure to find it.
Breaking through self-doubt and fear can be extremely challenging for a person with low self-esteem, especially if they have a heavy dose of social media. Much of what people do on social media is seek validation from their peer group. They can become so addicted to peer group validation that decision paralysis can set in without it.
The situation is worse when the feedback is frequently negative or non-affirming. Negative comments on selfies, photos, fashion, and even one’s choice of personal electronics can create a negative feedback cycle of doubt in one already prone to self-doubt.
You can’t handle the 338 friends and 208 followers you likely have on social media. That is according to the Dunbar number which, based on human brain size, limits the number of meaningful connections we can have to 150. When you peel a few more layers of the onion, Dunbar suggests the size of an inner-circle of close friends should peak at 5.
The thought process of a person with low self-esteem might work like this:
If no friends means I’m worthless, then hundreds of friends means I’m valuable.
But that’s not how the real world works. Seeking validation through more friends is a recipe for friend overload. There is simply no way to maintain hundreds of meaningful relationships. To try is madness, frustration, stress, and anxiety. It is all too easy to send friend requests and follow strangers online. But that pursuit of casual acquaintances only takes away time that could be spent cultivating close and meaningful friendships.
For the emotionally healthy person, alcohol addiction, self-doubt, and friend overload are real concerns. For the person with self-esteem issues, it is a clear and present danger. Don’t let social media be your kryptonite. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
That we have to all appreciate the little things and to not take anything for granted.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate within yourself and/or life?
I’m blessed to have loving family and friends in my life.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? And what makes YOU most proud? Any goals and dreams that you still have?
Graduating from Arizona State University in 2013
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
Nobody’s perfect and it’s been hard to accept it. I’ve learned to embrace my curly hair, my curves and my quirky personality.
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my unwavering intensity. Everything I do is 100 percent.