The Hard Truth About Using Social Media

This Spring Break, it’s fair to say that just about everyone will be on their phones, taking selfies and posting to their various social media networks as if it were a time-sensitive deadline. “I’m on the beach, or I’m at this party, so now I need to show the world that I’m here.”

Ego-boosting, self-esteem, validation, praise, happiness, and sense of worth. They’re all words to describe feelings we yearn for. Sadly, for many throughout the past decade or so, these feelings seem to only get achieved through the use of social media.

Most of us are guilty of using social media as a method of ego-boosting. Often times we turn to it to reestablish our sense of worth, resulting in an almost instant gratification. Whether it is through posting a selfie in the gym, changing a profile picture after a haircut, or typing a funny tweet—most of us use social media as a form of validation in one way or another. But the real question is: How long does this “high” last? And what are the effects of this addictive temporary “healing”?

It feels great to be praised and acknowledged by social media. That recognition and happiness may last for several hours or even days. The truth is, however, that the happiness is very temporary. And once it subsides, you’re left wanting that high again.

It can be argued that not everyone uses social media for these purposes. Maybe you’re merely proud of your homemade chicken curry dish and want to share with the world, or maybe you worked hard to land your dream job and feel excited to announce it. But where do we draw the line? When does this go sour? Do we really need to know that you’ve decided to go on a healthy food diet, or that you’ve gained 25 extra pounds of muscle? Do people really care?

We turn to social media as a method of coping, and this can be both a great and horrible thing. In times of loss, it can be a powerful way for others to show support. But in another sense, it can be a way for people to seek attention that isn’t real. The virtual attention often doesn’t translate to reality. The same person that says “I’m so sorry! I am here if you ever need to talk!” in an Instagram comment might not follow up with that offer face to face.

Often there is a pressure to be positive in social media spaces. People often portray themselves on social media as happy, well-off and successful, but many aren’t honest.

The solution to ending this vicious cycle of seeking constant validation over social media begins with being honest with yourself—being honest with your feelings, thoughts, and desires. Identify the truth behind your social media connection and realize it. If you feel you use social media for attention, take a step back and think about how long the satisfaction lasts and if it really fulfills the gratification you sought.

We don’t need social media to discover and identify our self-worth. If you struggle to find it, it’s not waiting for you on the internet. It’s waiting for you in your friends and family. And really, do you honestly care what Susie did on Friday night or how hot she looks?

We all love social media, and it’s likely many of these “validation seeking” posts won’t go away anytime soon. But however it makes you feel about yourself, and whatever you are currently using it for in terms of self-worth, just know that you’re definitely already awesome and we’re already competitive enough in real life, so why bring it to social media?

Do we actually think that we need to gain approval from others on how we live our life? Will that end up making a real difference in the end? Stop and think about it.

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