There’s no escaping social media these days. I can even say for myself that I’ve developed a notable addiction to platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat. I remember back in 2009 when social media was actually kinda fun. I was friends with just my “friends,” the photos were realistic, and I didn’t run into advertisements for skinny tea-tox programs at every click.
Social media has turned into a different beast and it’s becoming a big source of insecurity for the modern woman— myself included.
There is a direct correlation between addictive social media use and lowered self-esteem. A recent study found that women who were of a lower age, not in a relationship, and who had a lower income had higher scores on the BSMAS (a social media addiction scale – yes that’s a thing). This means that the likelihood that these women would get addicted to social media sites is extremely high. The likes and comments you receive on a post can become a substitute for the satisfaction that one would normally obtain from real life. Using social media as a way to feel good can form an unhealthy cycle of addiction as we start to “chase” approval from online peers. To top it all off, it has also been shown that women form addictions more easily surrounding social activities than men, making social media the perfect drug. To drill this in even further, it has been found that 76% of women in the U.S. are active on Facebook whereas only 66% of men can say the same.
In recent years we have witnessed the birth of the Instagram model, AKA people who are paid by companies just for living their lives on social media. It’s easy to become wrapped up in these model’s lives and think that all we need to do to be successful is to laze around pools in bikinis and have a killer bod.
The scary part about sites like Instagram is that the pictures we see are heavily edited and are literally looked at through a rose-colored filter. The same way that fashion magazines use photoshop to make their pictures “perfect,” it would be rare to see a picture on Instagram that was posted without being edited. Photo editing apps like “FaceTune” and “Perfect365” have skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years with over 70% of users being females in their early twenties. We are seeing pics of our peers worthy of a cover spread in Vogue, but to some, it’s not that obvious that the photos have been heavily edited or retouched which is setting us up for a comparison failure.
As women in the social media sphere: sexy = good. When we look at those hot pics of Instagram models or a selfie of a friend in heavy makeup, we tend to think that they are above us or seen as more important; this mindset was shown in a study investigating young girls’ responses to sexualized images. It was found that sexualization was viewed as an important attribute to have by the majority of the girls who participated. You can see, especially when you look at “Generation Z” — girls are taking glammed-up photos of themselves in an attempt to reach that level of importance they see on other, more popular profiles.
Scrolling through my social feeds no longer feels fun. I find that I’m ogling at other people’s photos more than actually communicating with my friends which is what made social media so fun and exciting back in 2009. Social media is turning into a competition. It’s like being back in high school where everyone wants to be the popular girl. When checking up on your friends just induces feelings of jealousy or FOMO (fear of missing out) instead of happiness and a feeling of connection. By reducing time spent on social media we can begin to see the significance in our own lives as opposed to getting caught up in everyone else’s. Social media can be an awesome platform to express, connect, and get inspired, just don’t let it take away your power.
Jongenelis, M. I., S. Pettigrew, S. M. Byrne, and N. Biagioni. “An Investigation of Young Girls’ Responses to Sexualized Images.” Body Image. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2016. Web. 09 May 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27750204
Andreassen, C. S., S. Pallesen, and M. D. Griffiths. “The Relationship between Addictive Use of Social Media, Narcissism, and Self-esteem: Findings from a Large National Survey.” Addictive Behaviors. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2017. Web. 09 May 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27072491
Bosker, Bianca. “New Selfi-Help Apps Are Airbrushing Us All Into Fake Instagram Perfection.” Huffingtonpost.com. HuffPost. 12 May. 2013. Web. 29 May 2017.
Clifford, Catherine. “Women Dominate Every Social Media Network, Except One.” Entrepreneur.com. Entrepreneur. 4 March. 2014. Web. 5 June 2017. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231970