Social media and self-esteem

How to be active on social media without it bringing you down
Social media can help us cultivate friendships and reduce loneliness. But sometimes we let it make us feel bad about ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others is natural. But it can also make us feel less fun, attractive, and successful, especially when we’re comparing ourselves to a filtered, idealized window into others’ experiences. That can be hard on one’s self-esteem. It can also impact our life satisfaction.There are ways to engage with social media that don’t feel unhealthy.

According to an article in The New York Times, a 2018 York University in Toronto study found that “young adult women using social media often compare their appearance with that of their female peers and think negative thoughts about their own bodies.”

A survey by Northeastern University’s online magazine, Experience, found that two-thirds of respondents experienced “pangs of social media envy in the previous month” while scrolling through their feeds. The biggest triggers included posts about vacation and travel, lifestyle, and money or wealth.

According to Experience, lots of us envy others’ social media posts. But feelings of envy can isolate people instead of bringing us closer.

“We nurse our hurts and grudges in private,” the Experience article states. “But we won’t conquer social media envy until we can publicly acknowledge all the ways it affects us.”

What are some concrete steps we can take to keep social media in perspective?

Curate your Facebook follows

Another article in The Times suggests we take a look at who we are following on Facebook. We can change what Facebook shows us by following only certain people. It’s OK to unfollow anyone who doesn’t spark joy, and they’ll never have to know. (It’s not the same as unfriending.) This has something of a ripple effect. It keeps you from seeing arguments between people you don’t know, and it shows you more of what you’re likely to enjoy, appreciate and interact with positively.

Improve Your Instagram

Selecting what you expose yourself to is even easier on Instagram. Simply follow people, hashtags, or brands you enjoy, without mixing in ones that stir up feelings of inadequacy. For Twitter, the author suggests tuning out anyone who brings you down. Because Twitter is an open platform, it can be a breeding ground for strong opinions. Curating your feed may take more than a few minutes. You can unfollow accounts that gain your attention with controversy and ridicule, and follow more uplifting accounts or topics. You can also “mute” words that annoy you, but you have to mute each word one at a time.

Take Back Your Algorithm

Not everyone agrees that quitting social media will make you happier. Forbes quotes a University of Kentucky study that notes “there was no significant change in a person’s mood even after they quit social media for seven, 14, 21 or 28 days.” But a second