I would like to introduce the fabulous Candace Mountain who I am very pleased to welcome as my first guest blogger!
Here is her post…
Social media has become a very big part of the way that people connect today. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and even Pinterest have transformed the way we interact. We are not spending the time we once did in real face to face social settings. Instead, our computers have become a cornerstone of our social life and with this change some very interesting things are happening. People are beginning to redefine the concept of self-esteem which includes what we need to reach a good place in regards to how we feel about ourselves.
Is this really happening? Can we really replace our face to face social interactions with social media without consequence?
I am not going to lie and say that the answer to that question is easy. It is very easy to just say yes or no but I tend to like delving in a bit deeper first. I think the perfect place to start is with a little bit of psychology and a theory known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Don’t worry, it sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. Basically, Maslow came up with a set of needs for people to have self-actualization which is just a fancy word for feeling like you belong to everything. The Buddhists would call it being one with the Universe. I am just going to boil it down to being happy and being in a good place with your world.
This set of needs is laid out in a hierarchy because the more advanced needs require simpler ones to already be in place. These needs are usually expressed as a pyramid though I think they are easier to picture as a house.
So just how does this all tie into self-esteem and social media? The answer is that self-esteem comes with dependencies, the lower level needs. Basically for self-esteem to be genuine and move you towards a true sense of belonging, all of the lower needs need to be met. You can argue that most of the needs can be met virtually and I will agree that it is possible but will caution that is very difficult.
The second floor in our model is where the trouble lies. For real self-esteem we need a healthy dose of friendship, family and intimacy. You may have 200 friends on Facebook but are they really satisfying your need for friendship? I will honestly say that a lot of my friends on Facebook are people I have never met and I really have no idea if I like them. Even if a ‘friend’ on social media likes everything you post, they may not like you. Likes are really just numbers and it is almost too easy to turn them into measuring sticks for popularity and self-esteem.
There is a danger in allowing yourself to inflate a like based self-esteem and fooling yourself that you are okay because you have all these likes. When the likes fail to materialize, your mood then dampens and this causes you to try in any way you can to get the likes back. In a lot of cases it can even lead to depression and other self-deflation issues.
On the other shoe, if the likes keep coming and your false sense of self-esteem keeps growing, you can start treading in the territory of narcissism. A great example of this is celebrities. How many young celebrities have you seen give into the popularity in a negative way? This is an extreme version of the likes and perceived popularity getting out of control. Keep in mind, narcissism is a fairly rare example that does happen but luckily the perfect storm of likes is much harder to come by.
So now that I scared you a little in regards to social media and your self-esteem, let’s look at the healthier options. Going back to that second floor again we know that friendship, family, and intimacy are essential to building a healthy self-esteem. So what this means is that you want to be certain to have real connections in your life. Don’t rely on the Internet for everything. Get in those face to face moments with family and friends. Add a little romance to your life with your significant other or maybe meet that significant other.
If we look again at social media, keeping what we have learned above in mind, we can see a clearer picture on how to approach things. We should now realize that a like is just a like and it isn’t a real measurement of your self-worth. Keep making those connections as there is nothing wrong with that. Just be smarter about your needs and ensure they are being met outside of the world of social media. It is much easier to show people how special you really are face to face.
Candace Mountain is an author, writer, social media enthusiast and blogger from beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. Her blog can be found at http://blog.candacemountain.com.
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