Fakebook: Self Esteem and Social Media
We all know somebody whose life is ruled by Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. They share everything – what they think, what they eat, cryptic status updates and of course, their ever changing relationship status. From using social media as a means to stalk people, to blocking and unblocking people as a means of communicating your anger; the whole dance is exhausting.
In the good old days (before social media), if you wanted to know what your current partner/ex/potential love interest was up to and what or who they were doing, you’d have hang around outside of their work or home, pester their friends, or go all out and hire a private investigator. You never had to watch your ex or anyone else for that matter play out their new life in front of an audience (unless you worked together or lived close by). Let me pause here and be clear, even in this day and age, none of us have to watch anyone do anything. If you are watching, you choose (on some level) to watch and choose to persecute yourself via social media. This is akin to putting your hand into a flame and getting burnt , saying ouch and removing your hand, only to then plunge your hand into the flame again. If it hurts, stop doing it. I’m curious – what compels this kind of self torture?
Before social media, if you are the suspicious type, you’d have been looking for receipts in pockets/bags, going through belongings, or out and out spying on someone. Nowadays, it’s all changed. I have met countless people who use social media to monitor who their partner is friends with and then flip out at every friend, picture or ‘like’ of which they do not approve.
The problem here is not social media per se. It’s more the other issues that are being Discounted, excused or even ignored. It is those reasons that compel someone to be all over the social media sites like a rash in the first place. Facebook/Instagram/Twitter are fun, but they are not, I repeat not, real life or a reflection of who people really are. What you see is a persona, a deliberately created image of what they want you to see. It is not a complete picture of a person nor will it ever show you the minutia of all that is going on for them.
So, if your self-esteem takes a knock every time you stalk on social media, the issue is more about a fragile and conditional relationship that you may have with yourself, rather than social media. Facebook/Instagram/Twitter act like a virtual reflection of all your negative beliefs. If your sense of self and happiness is continually disturbed by what you read, I suggest that it may be time to log off. Just as it is with dating or being in relationship, if it can’t be done without negatively affecting self esteem, then don’t do it.
The connections made on social media do not reflect real connections of real life. Real life and real friends take effort and consistency. We all know people with hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook yet who barely have two real friends to rub together. Really? Just how much attention does one person need? Is this overcompensating for something lacking in other areas of their life?
The more I see a couple make soppy declarations to one another via social media, the more I’m convinced that they’re putting on a show. When your ex’s new partner makes some big declaration about how ‘amazing’ they are and so on and so forth, it’s over-sharing, which could well indicate that they’re insecure about the relationship back here in the real world.
So, if how you feel about yourself is impacted when you check up on people, I would take a break and reflect on what it is that has been tapped into. If you’re a perfectionist and you believe that you’re not good enough or you’re prone to comparison, social media is like proverbial crack – you know you shouldn’t, you do, you get your hit and then feel shameful inadequacy afterwards. Lather, rinse and repeat.
Perhaps it is time to focus on real life and you, instead of illusions and fakery. It’s your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter experience and you have the power to set your own boundaries. Ultimately, whether you use Facebook to build your self-esteem on approval or to detract from it with persecution, neither positions are healthy. It ends up becoming a comparison site for how ‘great’ peoples projected lives are. When all is said and done, perpetual comparison creates perpetual dissatisfaction. The truth is that you don’t really know what’s going on with someone (unless they’re over-sharing). Aren’t there far more enriching things to be doing with our time and minds in the real world? Switch of that computer and get outside into the sunshine.