The Influence of Social Media on Self Evaluation

We are a generation of social media hungry people, everywhere you look, everything you hear is about what various people posted on a day to day basis, it never ends. A reason for this is because in this day in age, social media has become an integral part of our society, it almost seems like we could not function without it.

Social media has its ups and downs, but the negatives outweigh the positives to a degree. Social media has a negative impact on people in many ways. Many studies have shown that comparing oneself to people on social media can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mentality, including low self-esteem, depression and dissatisfaction with one’s appearance. This paper will confirm that more time spent on social networking sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. can have a negative affect on one’s self-esteem. More specifically, more time spent viewing other’s profiles, with their statuses and pictures, increases risk of serious low-self-esteem. (Chen & Lee, 2013).

Nowadays it takes one click to enter a whole new world which is Social Media. It is an integral part of millions of people’s daily routine. Social media has an immense impact not only on how we interact with one another, but how we perceive ourselves. Whether it be a positive impact, or a negative impact is a question that will be answered in this paper. Now two researchers named Amy L. Gonzales and Jeffery T. Hancock joined in effort to see the effect of Facebook exposure on self-esteem.

Their research provides two approaches that are relevant to the influence of social media on people’s self-confidence: the objective self-awareness theory and the selective self-presentation theory. Gonzales and Hancock claim that in an objective self-awareness state, “people are prone to self-evaluations based on broader social standards and norms,” which often leads to “a greater sense of humility, or downgraded ratings of self.” (page 4). Social media serves as a stimulus that allows its users to form their own standards based on the information they are exposed to online, and consequently compare themselves to those standards (Gonzales and Hancock, 2011).

Research has indicated that more time spent on Facebook is related to low self-esteem. It appears that the more time that is spent online leads to a decline in face-to-face communication with family and peers which can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression (Chen & Lee, 2013). This is evident when you consider the fact that the more time a person spends time on social media, the more they feel like they are missing out (FOMO) they start to isolate themselves from others and start to be obsessed with the fact that they don’t have what others may be having online.

The problem with this is that most of the time those people who supposedly have perfect lives online tend to just post the highlight reals from their lives and people that are constantly online looking for new feed to indulge themselves with find that they compare themselves to these “perfect” things that they are seeing online. Since people can manage their posts on social networking sites, they can choose to present information that positively affect their image, and filter out undesirable information (Gonzales and Hancock, 2011). This can be a severe problem, especially for those people who have low self-esteem because they are not emotionally stable.

For some, social media is a place where they need self-validation and self-evaluation. There was a study conducted by The University of Gothenburg in Sweden, which surveyed 335 men and 676 women. The study found that there was a negative relationship between the use of Facebook and self-esteem. One possible explanation was that since social media has made it easier for people  to get a glimpse of others’ personal lives, it is unavoidable that its users will compare themselves to their connections on the Internet. This comparison often draws people’s attention to their own limitations, thus lowers the confidence in themselves (Angie Zuo, 2014).

A study done by Vogel states that; After the questionnaires were collected certain interviews were conducted and people were asked the reason for which they use Facebook and whether they make social comparisons on Facebook or not. According to the results approximately 88% people engage in making social comparisons on Facebook and out of the 88%, 98% of the comparisons are upward social comparisons. It has been observed that upward comparisons make people feel inferior and have negative evaluations of themselves (Vogel, Rose, Roberts and Eckles, 2014).

Humans are creatures that love to compare themselves with others, we possess the fundamental drive to do this. Recent studies have found that frequent Facebook users believe that other users  are happier and more successful, especially when they do not know them very well offline. So, people are comparing their realistic offline selves to the idealized online selves of others, which can be detrimental to well-being and self-evaluation (Chou & Edge, 2012).

Many people have fallen victim to this, and it’s very hard not to. We live in a world where it almost feels inevitable that we will be comparing ourselves to others online, it’s all about the way you perceive it. For some, they can look and right away just know that obviously, people aren’t always having an enjoyable time and understand that everyone has problems. However; there are others that will focus intently on these things and become obsessed with it, which can ultimately give you lower self-esteem.

Studies have also shown that high usage of social media can result in depression; Many researchers have concluded from there researches that high usage of Facebook causes depression and decreased prosperity in individuals  As most people do not use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for their emotions or moods; they use Facebook to overcome their loneliness but only end being less satisfied with their lives (Chou and Edge, 2012) Chou and Edge have also concluded that people who use Facebook or Instagram frequently have a very firm belief that other users, who they don’t know very well offline, are living a very healthy, happy and prosperous life than themselves.

These assumptions about other peoples’ lives cause depression amongst individuals. According to Chou and Edge, when people see happy posts by their connections on Facebook, they can easily jump to conclusion that others are always happy and enjoying their lives without considering the certain situations that make them happy. This can really take a toll on some unstable people that always think that people have no problems whatsoever and are always going on vacations and having an enjoyable time all the time.

There are some things with this topic that relate to me in so many ways, an example from my life was when I would always feel like I needed to post a lot of pictures in order to get the most likes, I even went as far as getting fake likes for my pictures in the past, this was something that really gave me super low self-esteem because I knew deep down inside that I was  screwing around with myself, giving myself likes that I knew were not authentic.

The problem with this was that I was already getting enough likes, I just wanted more, I was trying to “Keep up with the Joneses” as some people would say. This goes to say that social media can have a detrimental effect on society if used for the wrong reasons which can ultimately have affect a person mentally and physically.

In conclusion, Social Media is something that can be very good for us, but at the end of the day, the risks of using too much of it is just too much.

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