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Step one: snap an awesome pic! Step two: pick out a flattering filter. Step three: Post it on the social media outlet of your choice. Step four: repeatedly check throughout the day to see if you've accumulated a sufficient amount of "likes". 

            We all find ourselves following these four steps multiple times during our social media careers. But does step four have a bigger impact on ourselves more than we perceive? Research studies have shown that an alternative hypothesis holds true when it pertains to social media. This alternative hypothesis is that the more social media "likes", comments, and interactions with friends the higher users self-esteem tends to be. There seems to be a positive correlation between the two aspects.

            So if social media is so great on our self esteems and makes us all feel good there could be no down side right? ... Wrong. Studies show that all the attention that we receive promotes narcissism. Also the lack of likes that we don't earn defeats our self esteems. A study conducted by Cornell University tested the affects that viewing ones own Facebook page as opposed to gazing at a blank screen would have on a person's self-esteem. The experimental study proved after an evaluation that the participants who made adjustments to their Facebook pages during the study had higher levels of self-esteem than those who simply stared at a blank screen. The findings had to do with "selective self-presentation in digital media"; meaning that when on a social media website a person can instantly become a 'better' version of themselves causing them to become more confident.  Baseline of Health Foundation describes Facebook as a way to put "the most positive spin you can put on yourself without losing reality or being deceptive".

            In my opinion I believe that the Cornell study should have gone further in depth to discover what parts of the social media experience causes this self-esteem boost. Is it the interactions with friends?; The "likes" that we receive on statuses and pictures? The recreation of ourselves?; Or all three aspects combined?

            A psychology student was also curious about how social media affects our brain and discovered studies that proved that social media has a greater affect on our self-worth than we imagine. She discovered that a study in the UK "reported that participants also said that their self-esteem suffers when they compare their own accomplishments to those of their online friends". This finding allows for justification of why we feel defeated when our profile pictures only get 15 "likes" compared to one of our friends picture that accumulates a massive 100 "likes". We begin to question whether or not our online selves are less popular or attractive compared to our friends, and even worse we begin to wonder if our actual selves are on a lower level than our friends.

            This is where the danger of social media experiences comes into play; when we transfer our feelings received from social media into our everyday life experiences. The UK study was beneficial as it explained how the feelings we receive from social media experiences transfer into our own lives.

            We as users though need to make the final push towards helping ourselves. Personally I know the attention I receive from my online friends effects myself esteem, so I know now that I need to take two steps back from my lap top and realize that its only a one second click of a button that causes these feelings. How will you control your emotions?

3 Comments

I found this post to be very interesting. I always wondered if there were mental effects of gluing your face to Facebook all day. When Facebook was still a new site, there were applications that everyone would play in which you basically answered stupid questions about people you barely knew on your "friends list" and then Facebook automatically created a list of "most popular" people in the social circle/network. Since the results were directly related to amount of time spent playing a useless game, we all wasted our time to make ourselves look better. It brings in the other side of the argument that while Facebook may determine our level of self esteem, it also allows for situations in which people can very easily become egotistical. This is an interesting article that talks about how employers check job candidate's Facebook pages, and how silly things posted to Facebook can keep you from getting the job of your dreams.

I can totally see how it is true that Facebook can lead to narcissism. People spend so much time making themselves look like the picture perfect person on the profile that it must become exhausting. As you showed in your article it leads to negative personality traits such as narcissism, but did you know it also increases levels of stress? I actually wrote a blog about different social media in general increases stress levels and in the article I read for my blog it specifically said that this idea of trying to create your "ideal self" on your Facebook profile could actually increase your levels of stress significantly. Facebook is a great way to stay in contact with people and to reconnect with others but it is important to keep your use on this site and other social media sites like it in moderation.

The article I talked about can be found here
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-dick/social-networks-and-stress_b_3534170.html
And you can check out my blog about how social media increases levels of stress here
http://www.personal.psu.edu/afr3/blogs/siowfa13/2013/12/trying-to-reduce-stress-stay-away-from-social-media.html

Hi Laura! I found your blog post very insightful and relatable to my own life. I myself have a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook account and would definitely agree that my self-esteem rises considerably after receiving a lot of positive "buzz" on a tweet, picture, or post. I like a nice ratio of followers to the people that I follow on both Instagram and Twitter, this gives me a vote of confidence. However the older I become the less and less I begin to care about these superficial means of confidence. As a high school student I was way more worried about whether of not I would get 50 likes on an Instagram post or at least enough to make me feel satisfied. Today if I am content with my post I could really careless if I reach a quota of likes or not, as long as I think its cool thats all that I see matters.

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