Tough Stuff

It's time to stop letting social media impact your self-esteem

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling through Instagram like normal when you come across a photo of a girl you went to camp with five years ago. She’s vacationing in Jamaica with her family (again), sitting on a beach looking tan, skinny and gorgeous as ever. You remember the photo she posted last month of the academic award she was given at graduation and think to yourself, “Why can’t my life be like that?”

Often social media can make some girls feel like they aren’t good enough or don’t live as exciting lives as the people they follow. But for the most part, users only post the best parts of their lives, so it's easy to think that their lives are better than they really are. While this is inherently deceiving, the real problem is how it might affect you. Recent studies have shown that spending a lot of time on social media is actually linked to anxiety and lower self-esteem.

But we'll let you in on a secret: no one lives a perfect life. Social media gives you someone else’s highlight reel–perfectly edited photos of them having the time of their lives. Meanwhile, you’re only getting a the bumpy, behind-the-scenes look at your own life. Even the skinny girl who looks good in every photo wakes up every morning with crazy hair and no makeup on. Instagram doesn’t show you the nights she cried herself to sleep or the time her crush stood her up at the movies. You just don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life based on three photos a week, and it’s not fair to compare everything about yourself to just snippets of another person.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes those highlights aren’t even entirely truthful. At the touch of a button you can download a dozen apps that let you adjust color, remove blemishes and even make yourself appear thinner in photos. Sure, it might look great at first glance, but does it make sense to sacrifice your self-esteem for something that was carefully edited to look better than it was in reality?

If you’re following people that make you feel bad about yourself in any way, they aren’t worth it. It’s that simple. Narrow your follow list down to the people you know personally and unfollow the people you only admire from afar like celebrities and “popular” peeps you aren’t really friends with. Having a smaller feed of friends and family that you talk to regularly will remind you that there are real people behind those screens who aren’t as perfect as they might seem. It can feel weird unfollowing people you know, but remember that if you don’t know them that well to begin with, there probably won’t be any hard feelings. Facebook even has a great feature that lets you unfollow people without unfriending them so that you don’t have to see their posts in your news feed.

There will always be someone with something you wish you had and there will always be something about yourself you wish you could change. None of that means your own life isn’t beautiful and something to be proud of. If nothing else, remember this: you are worth so much more than the number of likes you get on a photo.

Has social media changed the way you see other people? Tell us in the comments below.

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by Alexis Ancel | 7/7/2016