What is it that propels us to document our lives and why do we feel we absolutely need to post the things we do on social media? How does this relate to the image we seek to maintain online, and our sense of self-worth offline?
According to psychologists Wilcox and Stephen in their paper ‘Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control’, sites such as Facebook can increase self-esteem. People tend towards presenting a socially desirable, positive self-view to others when online. In turn, this gives individuals an increase in self-esteem, but a decrease in self-control. It all ties in with the idea of keeping up appearances, and painting a picture to our audience. Individuals can choose the content that they post, and keeping up a certain online identity increases self-esteem, but can mask our true personas.
Sourcing our self-esteem and self-worth from social media is far from sustainable… and healthy.
Our addiction also ties into a need to find validation from others and the need to share our lives online. Not surprisingly then, does a research study show that individuals who have a sense of purpose are more likely to be immune to a rush of self-esteem that comes with online likes and comments. According to Cornell researcher Anthony Burrows, “we found that having a sense of purpose allowed people to navigate virtual feedback with more rigidity and persistence…Purposeful people noticed the positive feedback, but did not rely on it to feel good about themselves.”
If you ever feel low on self-esteem, try these exercises instead of reaching out to your phone or computer.