How long has it been since you checked your Facebook, Twitter, or Intragram account? If you’re like most people, you probably use social media many times throughout the day and may even have notifications set up that prompt you to check even more often.
While social media can be fun, studies have suggested that it can take a toll on our emotions. One such study by researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the effects of Facebook on mental health. They discovered that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the user. A co-author of the research, Professor Margaret Duffy, noted concern about social media from the findings, “If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”
Other studies have revealed that most people tend to edit photos and only show the ones that make their lives seem more attractive to others. That makes sense, who would post the worst pictures of themselves? However, we often forget this when we are comparing ourselves to our “Facebook friends.” It is this constant measuring of ourselves against others that causes the grief and suffering. It is the not feeling as “good, smart, pretty, wealthy, or funny” as others through comparison.
If you are wondering whether maybe your happiness has taken a hit from social media use, here are 3 signs it has:
1. You Need Positive Feedback to Feel Good
We all love feeling appreciated and valued. It feels great when a friend tells you that you look good or gives you positive feedback when you share something about your life. However, if you feel that you need to get “likes” on your pictures and posts, and only have good days based on getting that positive feedback online, you are too dependent on social media.
2. You’re an Instant Gratification Addict
With such easy and constant access to technology, we have become a society of people who seek out instant gratification. While it’s okay to sometimes want fast food and instant movie streaming, having a need to instantly feel worthy and good through social media is very harmful.
If the promise of instant gratification is driving your desire to post or share bits of your life, you may have become too dependent on social media.
3. You’re Reliving the Popularity Contests All Over Again
Adults can be just as susceptible to getting caught up in caring about how many “Facebook friends” and “likes” they get as teenagers. Anyone can struggle with putting down their phone to eat dinner or go to bed. Social media has created the opportunity to feel that we are constantly reliving the high school popularity contests. At the end of the day, are all of those “Facebook friends” really your friends?
True happiness is having authentic connections with the loved ones in your life. If you’re paying too much attention to how many online friends you have and not enough on whether or not your face-to-face relationships are healthy, you may have a problem. We all need connection, but think quality not quantity.
The next time you find yourself on your social media sites feeling jealous, envious, or somehow less than the people on those pages, remember that people tend to present very biased accounts of their lives. You “Facebook friends” are just as caught up in wanting to look good and feel that they measure up as you are. Struggling to feel worthy is something we all have in common, so see if you can take a step back to try to feel compassion for yourself and others as you watch this struggle play out on social media.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time with self-worth issues, therapy can be very helpful. I offer a free consultation session to discuss how I may be able to help.