How Many Likes Does it Take to Raise Your Self Esteem?
In the age of social media, we have become dependent on constant connection to our devices and the apps they hold. We are being fed round the clock insights into the lives of celebrities and peers seemingly with their lives all together and then when we’re forced to deal with the realities that our own lives aren’t perfect, we mentally collapse. “So and so is traveling the world but I can’t afford to travel, why is my life like this?” “So and so just got a huge job offer from a Fortune 500 company and I’m working a 9 to 5 entry level position so I can afford rent, why are they so lucky?” “So and so is in the most fabulous relationship, why can’t I find that?”. What we don’t see is what happens before and after that post is made. We look at the neighbor's grass and see it as greener but we don’t think about how it’s all the same grass, it’s as simple as how you take care of it. If you focus on the neighbor’s grass, you’ll never have time to look after and truly care for yours. It is surprisingly easy to ignore the facts because those aren’t written in the caption. We feel like these social media platforms give us a firsthand look into the real lives of the people around us and into celebrity lifestyles but we forget that it’s all staged and made to appear perfect. The truth is cropped, omitted, edited and filtered. So and so saved for a year to take that trip. “So and so was rejected 25 times before they got that job offer. So and so and their significant other cheat on each other. Just think about the steps you take to post a picture to Instagram or a Snap, you want it to be lit so you edit and play around with the filters. What makes you think others aren’t doing the same?
I get it, it’s easy to compare lives when social media platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and others bottle feed you these updates. You see your successes and failures but only the success of others, and as any normal human does, we maximize our failures while minimizing our successes. It’s very damaging to do this, it leads you into a dark rabbit hole that is hard to climb out of. It’s dangerous and can lead to deep depression. They say “comparison is the thief of joy” and I wholeheartedly agree. How are you able to enjoy and appreciate what you have if you’re constantly looking over the shoulder of someone else appreciating what they have? Appreciate your failures because they provide experience and build character and appreciate your successes just as you would a peer on Instagram. Pat yourself on the back as you would your friend. Thailand based photographer, Chompoo Baritone, created a photo series to show what really goes on to get that perfect post we become envious of. She shows everything going on that gets cropped out to create the perfect Instagram shot. Coupled with fabricated captions like “relaxing alone on the beach,” they show how easy it is to create exactly what you want to share even if it isn’t true.
These networks are controlling how we see ourselves and giving us distorted reality, so if you need to take a social media hiatus for your mental health, do so. Social media will always be there and you should always prioritize your well-being over everything else. If you must keep your networks, practice self-care. Try not to compare your life to that of others, envy is a monster we can’t afford to tame. Unplug when you need to, you can always reactivate, FOMO is for the discontent. Don’t let the numbers consume you. Likes, views, followers, does any of that really matter in life? Focus on your credit score, focus on your checkings and your savings, focus on how many gallons of gas you got left in the tank; those numbers matter more. Alright, all jokes aside be good to yourselves and don’t get wrapped up in the hype. At the end of the day, it’s just social media. Your worth isn’t determined by the numbers or by your ability to match your friends’ fly. Enjoy your life, you only get one!
Article by Olivia Steadman-Oladipo