At the innocent age of thirteen, after begging and pleading, I was finally granted permission from my parents to join the wonderful world of Facebook. The wonderful world that holds status updates from my eighth grade self that would mortify me today. The world that held twenty million prom pictures, birthday reminders, and of course the valuable ability to stay in touch with people that I normally, under whatever circumstance, could not have. It was also my first exposure to the world of “liking.”
From that point forward, my world of “liking” broadened, as Twitter and Instagram became new trends in the social media world. For years now I have willingly shared my life to the Internet. I have dispensed pictures from family vacations, snapshots of my outfits, and tweeted about how boring class was some particular day. Together, both the important life events and the insignificant day-to-day episodes were put up for sale. The sale was whether my circle of Internet friends would “like” my current situation or casually scroll past it.
I often wonder how this affected my development throughout adolescence. How did this constant need for Internet approval affect my real life self esteem? How does it affect the adolescents younger than me who have had this in their lives even longer?
There was a lack of clarity that I had to sift through. To learn the difference between my own thoughts about myself, other’s peoples thought about myself, and then on top of that, the Internet’s thoughts about myself, was difficult. It still is difficult sometimes.
Elite Daily posted a refreshing article the other day about destroying the “like” button on Instagram and how it would influence social media culture. By doing so, a more genuine environment would form. It would push people to share their real life photos and thoughts without worrying about the need for acceptance.
Social media is all kinds of brilliant. It allows for easy communication, a vast amount of information at the tips of our fingers, and a new opportunity for self-expression. But it can also falsely mimic the real world.
Forming a strong self esteem and searching for social acceptance is hard. No matter who you are or when you grew up, it is going to be flat. out. hard. Social media throws in a curveball that challenges me. I just try to remember everyday that self-love will never come in the form of notifications.