Virtue of the Week: Self-Respect


6 Signs Social Media is Killing Your Self-Respect

Social media can give us a false sense of belonging and connecting that is not built on real-life exchanges. This makes it increasingly easy to lose oneself to cyberspace connections and give them more weight than they deserve. When we look to social media, we end up comparing ourselves to what we see which can lower our self-esteem. On social media, everyone’s life looks perfect but you’re only seeing a snapshot of reality. We can be whoever we want to be in social media and if we take what we see literally then it’s possible that we can feel we are falling short in life.

How do you tell if your social network habit is healthy or harmful? If you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious or having negative thoughts after using social media, it may be time for a break. Here are six telltale signs social media could be negatively impacting your self-esteem…and what you can do about it.

  1. Social media disrupts your real-world thoughts and interactions. If you feel worried or uncomfortable when you’re unable to access social media or your emails, it is likely your social media dependency is compromising your self-esteem. Additionally, if you’re thinking about social media first thing in the morning and just before you go to bed, or you find yourself simultaneously juggling face-to-face encounters with your social media habit like facebooking or tweeting, there’s a good chance social media is disrupting your life in a negative way and may in fact be impinging on your real-life relationships. Time to take back control of your life.
  2. Social media affects your mood. If this voyeuristic habit is affecting your thoughts and feelings about yourself, it is likely harmful to your self-esteem. A new study has found a prominent link between eating disorders and social media. Women who spent longer periods of time on Facebook had a higher incidence of “appearance-focused behavior” (such as anorexia) and were more anxious and body conscience overall. The emptier one’s personal life, the more one will be attracted to the virtual world, with bored or lonely people spending more time on social media than those who are busy or active.
  3. Real-life interactions are difficult and being alone is uncomfortable. If you’re struggling with face-to-face connections, social media may be to blame. Studies have shown social media is a pathway to shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication. We have a generation of kids growing up not knowing how to just sit quietly in their own space because there is constant social noise. Kids are losing the idea of what it means to wait for information—they get it right now. They don’t know that idea of alone time or patience.
  4. You find yourself envious about what others are promoting. When we are depressed or down or just feel bad in general, it is easy to become jealous or envious of what other people are promoting about their life, particularly images of alleged happiness or success. The number of friends or likes a person may have on Facebook doesn’t equate with life success. This may make us feel inadequate simply because we don’t have what they have or because our self-worth is low. It is important to remember that what you are viewing is only a small sliver of someone’s life, which for the most part, is heavily embellished and mostly rooted in fantasy. When such images are starting to poison the way you look at your own life it may be time to step away from the screen.
  5. You relish in others’ misfortune. If you find yourself happy when other people are unhappy on social media, it may be time to ask yourself whether social media is a healthy psychological choice for you. You may merely be validating your own misery and unhappiness by comparing yourself to others. People who advertise their tragedies on social media are doing so because they crave attention, whether positive or negative, and are attempting to boost their own low self-esteem.
  6. You’re addicted to the attention and drama on social media. It’s easy to get sucked into the drama and juicy gossip encapsulated by social media especially when your own real life is lacking any sort of excitement or fulfillment. But this can be a dangerous game to play and often people get hurt. Studies have shown that Facebook contributes to jealousy in relationships and excessive use can in fact damage relationships by virtue of the fact that information a person would not normally share becomes public knowledge.

Need a Solution?

Reconnect with the real world—that means unhooking from cyberspace. Turn off social media and eliminate it from your life. If you can’t imagine yourself doing this, then you are addicted. Ask yourself what you did before you started using social media so much. Self-awareness is an important step. If you realize why you’re turning to technology in times when connection or communication isn’t critical, you’ve made the first step to reconnecting with the land of the living.