The Effects of Social Media on Self-Esteem

An excerpt from "What is Self-Esteem? A Psychologist Explains" by Courtney E. Ackerman

Although you may have found some of the findings on self-esteem covered earlier surprising, you will most likely expect this one: studies suggest that social media usage negatively impacts self-esteem (Friedlander, 2016).

This effect is easy to understand. Humans are social creatures and need interaction with others to stay healthy and happy; however, we also use those around us as comparisons to measure and track our own progress in work, relationships, and life in general. Social media makes these comparisons easier than ever, but they give this tendency to compare a dark twist.

What we see on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is not representative of real life. It is often carefully curated and painstakingly presented to give the best possible impression. We rarely see the sadness, the failure, and the disappointment that accompanies everyday human life; instead, we see a perfect picture, a timeline full of only good news, and short blurbs about achievements, accomplishments, and happiness.

Although this social comparison with unattainable standards is clearly a bad habit to get into, social media is not necessarily a death knell for your self-esteem. Moderate social media usage complemented by frequent self-reminders that we are often only seeing the very best in others can allow us to use social media posts as inspiration and motivation rather than unhealthy comparison.

You don’t need to give up social media for good in order to maintain a healthy sense of self-esteem—just use it mindfully and keep it in the right perspective!