Isn’t it hard to believe that social media was only a budding trend a decade ago! In a matter of 10 years, the entire human population seems to become addicted to social media forums. Billions are using these networking sites today and the number of users is increasing day by day.
Interestingly, social media emerged as a robust means of communication and we were glad to get in touch with our F&F settled afar with the best internet subscription and a valid social media account. However, slowly, it has made its way into every part of our lives. From personal relationships, work, studies, and entertainment to dictating beauty/fitness standards and fashion trends, a lot is being silently, yet powerfully being conveyed and emphasized by social media. Let’s dig in further.
How is Social Media Affecting Us?
We may not realize it but we are consuming this entire media every hour of every day and it is affecting our view of ourselves. Be it a dreamy vacation photoshoot of a travel blogger or celebrities’ gym selfies, seeing, idealizing, and idolizing them is resulting in a lack of self-esteem, confidence, and insecurities. Most people scroll through Instagram and Facebook mindlessly the moment they have a few seconds of downtime. The addictive nature of social media has eaten up all the time that people would meditate, sit in silence and solitude, or be imaginative. Gluing their eyes on a gadget to catch a few snippets from their people’s lives seems more tempting.
Mainstream media presents unrealistic standards of beauty and now this trend is taken over by social media. Go to a celebrity, a fashion mag, or an influencer’s social media profile and you will find loads of stick-thin models with highly photo-shopped skins and even face cuts.
As a result, there are two reactions. Some users embrace themselves and are comfortable in their own skin what so ever. They see social media feeds as sources of entertainment just like a movie or a show. On the other hand, there are people who are triggered by their self-thought beauty defects. They compare themselves with those far-from-reality idols and want to be part of the race. They think of ways to curate their own social media feeds with edited photos to feel better and accepted.
Social Media and Body Image
Most studies about social media and body image are correlational. Some studies indicate that social media causes negative feelings in people about their appearance. Moreover, it is also indicated that people who are concerned or disapprove of their appearance use social media more often.
In addition, people who have negative thoughts about their body are more likely to involve in photo-based activities and scrolling social media. Those who follow a list of celebs and influencers and not just close F&F are also more likely to be consumed by these draining comparisons. Research indicates that who we compare ourselves to, is the key.
Most of the victims of this comparison game often judge themselves and their bodies as the worse off.
Behind the Scenes and Highlight Reel
Let’s take the instance of Instagram here. The forum started out a decade ago as an app to post unedited snippets and snapshots of your daily life. But now, it has emerged as the number 1 destination for carefully chosen and effectively touched-up photos and videos with specialized editing apps.
Moreover, Instagram is home to more celeb and influencer accounts than any other social media site. The concern here is that users compare their raw, behind the scenes life and experiences with the highlight reels of influencers and celebs. This affects their confidence and satisfaction levels.
Those flaunting photos had a filter on and further edited from every possible angle. And those well-thought captions such as “Living my best life” or “Living the dream” are clear indications of seeking attention and popularity. But sadly, they work. And people end up having feelings of FOMO and not being good enough. This comparison of looking better and experiencing great things is significantly affecting teenagers and young users. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that social media has evolved into a comparison platform.
Certain trends on social media have a negative impact on users. For instance, images related to fitspiration or #fitspo where people in perfect shape are flaunting their exercise poses can make people harsh on themselves.
Studies reveal that women who search for fitspiration images have low self-compassion scores. This means that such images and trends can have a negative influence on the user.
The Sheer Desire for Being Validated
The key reasons for posting highly edited faces and bodies for people to view are many. Some of the prominent ones to seek validation, acceptance, and praise. Ever wonder why shirtless guys flex in front of gym mirrors and girls make weird duck faces? They just want to hop on the viral photo and video trends and in turn seek popularity.
Moreover, the tech giants are taking this validation-seeking psyche to the next level. Smartphones today come with advanced and high-resolution cameras with filters, editing features, frames, and so much more. To get an amazing click and edit it to perfection, you do not have to get yourself a DSLR and go to a mountaintop for a great background.
All you need is a good smartphone with the right filters, background changes, and optimal editing. Need a bit of inspo? Tune into TV essentials and enact a scene from a movie or create a look inspired by an actor. In addition, there you go! Post it online and you are good to get those rave reviews that you are putting so much effort for.
No wonder there is a whopping number of new bloggers, vloggers, and influencers all set to receive appeasing and appreciating comments. Constantly seeking virtual validation make your real-life experiences unworthy. You do not appreciate them as much as you appreciate a stranger’s praising comment on a photo you just posted.