By Sage Tippie
During the past decade, social media usage has increased significantly, and with its rising popularity comes a rise in low self-esteem among users.
Throughout history, the way people view themselves has shifted heavily from personality to the physical side of the spectrum. People were once celebrated for their kindness, politeness, or proper social behavior. Today, people are judged on their hair, outfits, and body types, and they choose to determine their self-worth based off the number of likes and retweets they receive.
Nowadays it seems that social media has become a competition of sorts. Who has the best life? The best clothes? The best body? People are constantly posting new pictures, updating their feed with the latest and greatest pictures, and glancing at others thinking, “Am I prettier than she is?” If so, they’ve advanced one step in the unremitting competition for the most attractive. If not though, confidence can decrease with every photo, until there is hardly any left.
For one, social media encourages a constant influx of photos; photos that users compare their lives to. The bars for the best bodies, food, and vacations are constantly reset higher and higher. This comparison between social media users to real life creates harsh self-evaluation and dissatisfaction with individual lives. With unbelievable photos of tropical vacations, six-pack stomachs, and impeccable makeup clouding the feed, life can feel drab in comparison.
Take Alexis Ren for example, who has over 7 million Instagram followers. Most people would dream of having a life that mirrors hers, obsessing over her toned stomach and monthly vacations, envying her every post, but it’s almost unattainable for anyone besides the Instagram star herself. It seems the ultimate goal within social media is to be as desirable as possible, so when people cannot live up to societal expectations, they find themselves disappointed and ashamed of themselves.
Thus, social media has created a gap between online personas versus real life ones. It’s no secret that people aren’t often exactly who they portray themselves to be on social media because most people only share the best parts of their lives. People often create an online role in which they look the most attractive, have the most interesting lives, the most stylish clothes, but still find themselves dissatisfied when they look in the mirror at who they really are.
Despite the drawbacks that social media presents, it is not always a self-esteem wrecking monster, wreaking havoc on innocent users, although it can feel that way. A social media platform can allow people to express themselves freely and is essential in building a brand. For example, Kylie Jenner has over 30 million followers on Instagram and has single handedly built her own brand through the use of social media.
Like everything else, use of social media comes with pros and cons. The amount of likes and retweets received doesn’t determine self worth. The image plastered across social media doesn’t have to be you because what social media is truly about is the freedom to be yourself.