Self Esteem and Social Media: Is Instagram a Breeding Ground for Insecurity and Comparison?
Social media has SO many benefits.
It’s a place that provides inspiration, opportunities and ways to connect with the world that wouldn’t present themselves otherwise. It provides constant communication with millions of people right at our fingertips, all day, every day. But the quality of our life has become largely dependent on what we post online and how it compares to everyone else in our feed.
Is the quality of the picture good enough? Does this angle accentuate my stomach? Is the caption on point? How many likes did I get? Did I get any thoughtful comments? These questions, amongst others, flood our mind until we drive ourselves absolutely crazy. Like losing our confidence, throwing a pity party and eating an entire block of chocolate crazy.
Our value has become so attached to our online presence.
I was scrolling through my feed. Taking in the beauty of every little square image before my eyes. A girl backpacking in Europe, another girl swimming in beautiful Santorini waters, an online blogger selling her thousand dollar course, a small business owner launching a new line, and then I clicked over to my profile.
And it all just seemed less than. Like it was lame. Useless. Like I wasn’t good enough.
But how had I gone from honest blogger, small-business supporter, body positivity advocate, photography lover, encourager, self love enthusiast and confident woman to feeling totally unworthy and de-valued?
I allowed small squares resembling one single moment in someone else’s life create the expectation for my entire life.
This is a dangerous game that we have the option to play every.single.day. Even if we give up social media, we still consume content through other mediums such as TV, articles, books, etc. And even if we give up ALL mediums and become a hermit (which I may or may not have considered before), we still experience human interaction every single day and have the option to compare ourselves there as well.
There will always be someone to compare ourselves to...
But why should your life in any way compare to another? You carry talents, capabilities, strengths and beauty that are unique to you. No-one else can carry them exactly the way you do. No one looks like you, talks like you, laughs like you, sees life like you do or has the same exact ideas you do. No one can be you.
Instagram may have the potential to be a breeding ground for insecurity and comparison, but we get to choose the end result. We choose who we follow, how we react to another person’s success and essentially how social media affects us.
Our happiness is rooted in our decision to appreciate life, resist comparison and celebrate others.
So, how can we choose to be positively impacted by social media rather than allowing it to dictate our life in an unhealthy and negative way?
Here’s 3 ways to develop a healthy relationship between yourself and social media:
1| Claim Your Identity and Know Your Worth
All insecurity stems from a lack of identity. When we don’t know who we are and the value of that, we begin to associate our worth with outside factors such as how many likes we get on a picture, how many pounds we can lose in a week, the success of our business and the word of some random stranger. When we don’t know who we are, we look for the answer from unreliable sources.
Related: Overcoming Insecurity
The problem with this is that no one can accurately tell you exactly who you are. For one, everyone is not going to like you. I repeat, everyone is not going to like you. Every human being has their own opinions, flavor and style, and you may not be someone else’s cup of tea. Heck, I may not be your cup of tea. But if you are rooted and grounded in your identity as a confident, powerful, talented and beautiful human being, then no one can convince you otherwise. Your weight, success, following or any other outside source can’t change your identity. If you don’t give people the power to define who you are, then you get to make that choice without any noise, lies or negative opinions.
2| Live More of Your Life Offline
When we spend the majority of our time in the virtual world, we deny real experiences with the reality right in front of our eyes. Instagram alone is comprised of pictures, captions, stories, advertisements, live chats, hashtags, and more. It’s this endless pit of content that we can mindlessly scroll through for hours on end. It’s a place where we can escape reality - whether it’s stress, anxiety, loneliness, fear, depression, failure, or simply boredom. But when we fall into the trap of experiencing the majority of our life through a social media platform, we are denied tangible and meaningful experiences.
But something powerful happens when we set boundaries between ourselves and social media. We give ourselves permission to experience the fullness of life without the virtual noise greeting us all throughout the day. We get to focus on our dreams, our purpose, our vision and our real-life relationships. By no means am I suggesting you completely give up social media (because I myself am in a pretty committed relationship with it), but I’m simply suggesting to create healthy boundaries that will in turn, make you a happier, healthier and a more confident person!
Check out this awesome post by Bria over at Tendril Wild: How to Unplug from Social Media as an Introvert (PS-it's just as good even if you're an extrovert!)
3| Don’t Compare the Entirety of Your Life to a Moment in Another Person’s Life
One downfall of social media is its ability to increase our tendency to compare our life to another. Again, pictures are comprised of moments, and the ones people put on display are generally the beautiful ones. So, we first have to let go of the expectation that our life has to measure up to the “perfect” moments captured and displayed online. We then have to make the conscious choice to love ourself first and also celebrate the beauty in others.
Comparison is rooted in insecurity which stems from a lack of identity. Notice that both of the roots here have to do with us. This isn’t to say that they aren’t affected by someone else, but it is to say that we have control over these aspects. We get to make choices that improve our self-worth, confidence and identity. We have to be willing to live confidently and bravely as ourselves and celebrate it when others do the same. Because your worth isn’t measured by the lack thereof in another person.
Related: Eliminating the Root of Comparison
Social media isn’t completely to blame for our tendency to compare and feel insecure.
Although it does have its affects, we get to make the ultimate decision. And when we know our worth, what it’s rooted in, and live confidently as ourselves, we don’t give social media the power to define us in any other way. We get to choose who we are. And I’d like to suggest that we are each beautiful, valuable, and so worthy.
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