Click. Click. Click. Stare. Click. Click. Yes, you just stalked another person’s intense trip to the Bahamas that you are envious of. You then found yourself scrolling through your ex-boyfriends perfect new life with his new girlfriend. Why are they smiling in every photo? Jeeze, are they that happy? Am I as happy?
In the virtual world anyone can post anything and share it with, well, everyone. However, people have the ability to filter the lives they portray online. Yes, your ex boyfriend may have just uploaded 30 new photos of him and his girlfriend smiling, but do those 30 new mobile uploads truly portray his life? Or are those 30 new photos just a glimpse into their relationship; a glimpse that causes you to re-evaluate your own happiness and self-perception. This has been a common issue across all social networking sources, users have been comparing their lives with their followers and friends, causing them to alter their self-perception.
First, lets take a look at Instagram. The pressure we put on ourselves for (1) the perfect photo (2) the perfect filter and (3) LIKES has become extensive. In our minds, there is a perfect formula to the “Instagram equation”: good photo + killer editing = likes. Why do we care so much about “likes”. Why do we give them so much power over our self-esteem. In reality, the person who is “liking” your photo is scrolling through their feed and simply double tapping their screen. Why does a person hitting their screen give you satisfaction? The millennial generation has become obsessed with gaining the most likes as possible because, for some bizarre reason, they have been linked to an increase in happiness and self-satisfaction. However, what happens when people don’t get enough likes to satisfy their virtual lives?
A team in the UK researched online users and 53% of responders claimed that online use changed their behavior and 51% claimed that they have had negative behavioral effects due to comparing themselves with others. If the photo above yours got 200 likes, and yours only got 50, would that effect you? Most would have a psychological impact on their self-esteem, compare themselves and think, “Am I as happy as they look”.
Similarly to Instagram, Facebook has also elicited self-esteem side effects. According to a study done at University of Michigan which showed that, “the more avid users were overall more unhappy than those who used the site less. Over more time, avid users also reported lower satisfaction in their lives overall.” Users have spent too much time focusing on other peoples lives and comparing their own with friends on Facebook and followers on Instagram. As the young generations continue to be swallowed by the digital world, we must remember that everything people post online are filtered, edited, even posed and fixed. We only see the parts people want us to see; parts that create what they want us to think. So, the next time you are stalking your ex, just remember that the new mobile uploads are glimpses into their perfectly polished virtual, not real, lives.
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