Maintaining Your Self-Worth in the Age of Social Media
Reese Jones, Strong 365 guest blogger
Often confused as either self-value or self-esteem, Sam Woolfe from the Healthy Place describes self-worth as the belief that you are valuable and lovable and therefore deserving of respect regardless of the way you evaluate your traits. So, if self-worth is something that is not related to the way people perceive their traits, where does it come from? Different people draw their self-worth from different things. While some people attribute their self-worth to their intrinsic value as humans, others attach their self-worth to the things they want in life.
According to Martin V. Covington’s self-worth theory, a person’s main want or priority in life is to find self-acceptance. The same theory posits that self-acceptance is something that one can find through achievements, which, in turn, can be found through competition with others. This is where social media comes in. We are now living in a world where social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are the primary forms of social communication. While the benefits that these sites provide when it comes to forging relationships and maintaining social connections are undeniable, the detrimental effects on self-worth are also worth noting
Social media and self-worth
When a person is bombarded with the achievements of his or her peers, comparing oneself to others becomes almost unavoidable. Others’ struggles seem non-existent while yours are amplified, and you couldn’t help but feel like all your achievements pale in comparison to theirs. To make things even worse, the societal aspect of social media sites makes them vulnerable to stereotypes and social standards that are farther and farther away from reality and are highly skewed. All these make it harder to maintain a positive sense of self-worth and keep ourselves from drawing self-worth from social media feedback in the form of likes, heart reacts, views, and retweets. A recent study published in the journal Sex Roles found that women whose self-worth was highly dependent on social media feedback reported lower levels of resilience and self-kindness and higher levels of stress and depressive symptoms.
Keeping your self-worth in check All the aforementioned things make it seem like a life with minimal social media exposure is the key to maintaining your self-worth. However, the deep entrenchment of social media platforms in our day to day lives — in addition to the massive shift into the digital space due to the pandemic — makes it impossible to do just that. With that in mind, here are some practices that you can do to keep your self-worth in check while using social media sites.
1. Follow the right influencers
Although using social media can contribute to the negative perception of self-worth, there are a lot of influencers out there using their platform to forward self-love. A great example of such an influencer is Kaycee Enerva. This “macho mom” living with bipolar disorder fervently encourages her followers to value themselves as they are, and actively practice self-care. You can find more influencers and activists focused on mental wellbeing profiled on Strong 365’s Instagram page.
2. Use social media to raise awareness and seek help
In one of our previous posts, we’ve highlighted how Google Search has been encouraging people to seek mental health assistance through targeted ads that can impact help-seeking behavior. Believe it or not, social media sites can also do the same. Thanks to social media’s ability to reach millions upon millions of people in a short period of time, raising awareness over important mental health topics has never been easier. Through simple hashtags and posts, one can easily have access to a wide array of useful mental health links such as health forums, online services, and free online counseling. While we use our own platforms to promote awareness and resources, you can also visit strong365.org/find-help for an up-to-date listing of peer support and counseling services, including low and no-cost services, and services for specific issues, identities, and culturally-focused communities.
3. Take a routine social media “detox” — and don’t let social media replace real life
Having “detox” periods is one of the best ways you can keep the unfavorable impacts of social media sites at bay. An adjunct professor from Georgetown University, Jelena Kecmanovic, mentioned how these breaks from social media can lead to reduced stress, higher life satisfaction, and lower levels of loneliness and depression. Kecmanovic also emphasized how real-life interactions with friends and family shouldn’t be replaced with social media updates that only allow a limited view into one’s life.