How Does Social Media Impact Self Image

Psychology of Social Media

Regardless of age, we are all social media users. On the other hand, many content and posts are shared every day on social media channels, where the number of users is increasing. Social media directly affects our behaviors, thoughts and perceptions according to our usage times. At this point, researchers and experts are working more on social media psychology and are starting to discover how this big network affects us. But what is this social media psychology? A theory that has been put forward in recent years about social media psychology actually reconstructs a theory that goes back a long way; Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. This pyramid sheds light on our motivation to post on social media.

Physiological needs: People sometimes share to benefit the health or well-being of their friends and family.

Safety: Physical, mental and financial security is important to people when they choose to post certain materials on their social media.

Love/belonging: Users often want to share from a group or a specific person to gain some form of social acceptance.

Reputation: People want to suppress the reward-oriented parts of their brains, which helps explain why people regularly post “self-centered” content.

Self-actualization: The most important step in the hierarchy of needs, the need for self-actualization is satisfied when people share their achievements – finding a new job, completing a challenging project, or graduating from school.

Need of Esteem

In addition to these needs, one of the most important motivations for people to want to show themselves is the need of esteem and the desire to be liked. This desire is valid for all of us, and in fact, it significantly affects our lives, from our choice of partner to the attitude we take in job interviews. It is also a very normal and healthy motivation as long as it is used at the right level. But the relationship between the desire to be liked or need of esteem and our digital selves has become more and more intense. Especially when the desire to be liked started to show itself with anxiety, we started to show ourselves as different from what we are and even to reject our true identity.

Feeling of Inadequacy

While digital selves on social media are increasing day by day, we are all trying to reveal our ‘best’ self with the posts we make unconsciously. Because with the posts and digital selves presented to us on social media, sharing our negative aspects or bad memories on social media has become a show of weakness for us. Think about it, why would you look unhappy or bad in a place where everyone is very good or very happy? However, our perception of bad-good, beautiful-ugly has gradually started to be built on the stimuli presented to us on social media, and this has also affected our self-presentation in social media. With the filters used and the shares made, a difference emerged between our self-presentation on social media and our real-life self. With this difference, we started to alienate ourselves more and more and struggle with the feeling of inadequacy over the person we see in the mirror. By understanding the reasons that feed this feeling of inadequacy, we can develop alternatives to cope with feeling of inadequancy. But for this, we may need to rethink what is actually good and bad, what is beautiful and what is ugly.

How to Deal with Feelings of Inadequacy

As the whole world, we are in a process of adaptation to the world of social media, which is actually a new innovation for all of us. We need to develop strategies to carry out this adaptation process as healthy as possible and to protect ourselves from the disadvantages while using the advantages of social media.

For this reason, it is of course possible for a person to make peace with himself/herself and renew his/her self-confidence while being a social media user. For this, we should sometimes get away from blue light sources and spend time with ourselves and make an effort to strengthen our real-life social networks. In this way, we can find an answer to the question of how to deal with the feeling of inadequacy. Apart from social media, creating routines for ourselves, creating hobbies and reminding ourselves to stay in the moment, and trying mindfulness techniques to be more interested in our inner world can be good alternatives for all of us.

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