A non-idealistic view created by social media

On average we spend 118 minutes per day on social media ; this is good news for businesses practising digital marketing but bad news for us who naturally compare ourselves with those around us (hence Festinger’s theory below).

Social Comparison Theory
Figure 1

Why? Social media provides us with a platform to raise questions about our lives, relationships and body image by comparing ourselves to other users. The authenticity feel of social media makes us disregard the editing behind posts and we compare ourselves and lives naturally without realising it is harming us.

Collecting “likes”, “followers” and instant unfiltered comments (as shown in the video below) increases the pressure to put our best self forward. With everyone putting their best self forward we create a non – idealistic view of how we should be living.

“The perfect body”

Social media trends such as “fitspiration” and concerns like cyber bullying, adds to the pressure of posting the most attractive selfies,  which as research suggests, leads to body image issues. 

“Relationship Goals” 

Figure 2

We’ve all seen posts similar to those above on our timelines – which makes us dream of the perfect relationship but the truth is that “all that glitters is not gold” as Patricia says below. Check out Lexi’s blog on 11 things we fake on social media. 

“The Perfect Life”

Social media is an extension of our identity and as mentioned in previous posts, we use our online profiles to highlight our best achievements. Consequently we can find ourselves with low self-esteem  when we see those around us post updates on experiences we cannot relate to and become anxious when trying to keep up.

Figure 3

“Too much of anything is bad for you”

Growing up with social media, it has become my number one source to network and share my creativity and like many I know I have to say I pretty much cannot live without it. So how can we use our favourite pass time without letting it harm us?

After exploring this topic I found that the key answer to this question is – to become digital media literate. This means not only create media but also be able to access, analyse and evaluate it.

I would recommend deleting all apps for a week; it helps you concentrate on what truly makes you happy and spend time with those around you, remember there is more to life than being online.



Diamond, A. (2015). Essena O’Neill: The Instagram Star Who Quit Social Media. [Blog] Pop Culture. Available at: http://www.manrepeller.com/minor_cogitations/essena-oneill-quit-social-media.html [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Festinger L (1954). “A theory of social comparison processes”. Human relations. 7 (2): 117–140. doi:10.1177/001872675400700202.

Herrick, L. (2015). 11 Things We Fake in Our Social Media Lives. [Blog] The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lexi-herrick/11-things-we-fake-in-our-social-media-lives_b_7693182.html [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Lewallen, J. and Behm – Morawitz, E. (2016). Pinterest or Thinterest?: Social Comparison and Body Image on Social Media – Mar 29, 2016. [online] Journals.sagepub.com. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2056305116640559 [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

McCluskey, M. (2016). Instagram Star Essena O’Neill Breaks Her Silence on Quitting Social Media. [Blog] Internet. Available at: http://time.com/4167856/essena-oneill-breaks-silence-on-quitting-social-media/ [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

McLean, S., Paxton, S., Wertheim, E. and Masters, J. (2015). Photoshopping the selfie: Self photo editing and photo investment are associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. [online] Wiley Online Library. Available at: http://10.1002/eat.22449 [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Paxton, S. and MClean, S. (2016). Social media can damage body image – here’s how to counteract it. [online] The Conversation. Available at: http://theconversation.com/social-media-can-damage-body-image-heres-how-to-counteract-it-65717 [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

Rodgers, R. and Melioli, T. (2016). The Relationship Between Body Image Concerns, Eating Disorders and Internet Use, Part I: A Review of Empirical Support. [online] Paperity. Available at: http://paperity.org/p/74043250/the-relationship-between-body-image-concerns-eating-disorders-and-internet-use-part-i-a [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].

Statista. (2016). Global time spent on social media daily 2016 | Statista. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/433871/daily-social-media-usage-worldwide/ [Accessed 23 Mar. 2017].

Williams, R. (2014). How Facebook can amplify low self-esteem/Narcissism/Anxiety. [Blog] Psychology today. Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201405/how-facebook-can-amplify-low-self-esteemnarcissismanxiety [Accessed 26 Mar. 2017].


1 – created on canva.com

2- created on canva.com

3 – created on canva.com

presentation – created on piktochart.com


16 thoughts on “A non-idealistic view created by social media

  1. Hi Ellie,

    I love how your post focused on the psychological aspects that are brought forward by social media, which I find very intriguing. The video that you have shared about “The perfect body” reminded me of an article that I have read a few months ago where Victoria secret changed their slogan from “Perfect Body” to “A Body for Every Body”.

    ( http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/06/victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign_n_6115728.html )

    This change stirred a lot of attention! Dove, on the other hand was more successful by launching a campaign that promoted beauty in all kinds of different sized women, fighting against the stereotypical “ideal shape”.

    Your blog has shown that portraying the perfect online life leads to a lot of anxiety, stress and expectations. Do you believe that models such as Ashley Graham and various other figures will manage to change the perception of society over time? Or are we destined to reach a never-ending goal of perfection?

    Sharon Bürgin

    153 words

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sharon,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I remember this drama around Victoria’s secret campaign.
      To answer your question “are we destined to reach a never-ending goal of perfection” i believe that although we will always compare ourselves to others and never be 100% with how we look, society is starting to realise that perfection does not exist due to this increasing awareness that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Which is why companies , especially in the beauty industry will find it very challenging to continuously send out a positive message as the public is so conscience of what is ethical and what is not – do you agree? Have you ever felt pressured by social media – such as by content i mentioned on my blog post?
      many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ellie,

        I have a lot of respect for the people trying to promote a positive mind-set that “its okay to be who you are”. It also makes me very angry when these individuals get flooded with negative comments. I personally, can only hope that they won’t be discouraged and keep putting themselves out there, as I’m sure it does help a few people. Regarding myself and social media, I have never really felt pressured. I believe it’s because I can decide on who I wish to share my context with.

        I like the quote that you added on your last image “Social media is not real life”. But, I think that although a lot of people are told this on a daily basis, this thought fades over time and people will once again compete for online attention and some might even get hurt.

        Sharon Bürgin

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Ellie,

    I have discussed the creation of an inauthentic self in previous posts, although I haven’t written specifically about the implications on our mental health, but share similar views and thus really enjoyed this post!

    My post discussed screening processes in recruitment using social media, and after reading yours, I’d be inclined to say that having employers screen your social media can only heighten this discussed inauthenticity, as potential employees have to put their ‘best self forward’, pressured by comparisons with other professionals online. The use of social media in employment processes is therefore especially damaging as those who are not ‘perfect’ may lose employment opportunities and have lower self-esteem.

    Do you agree with this connection? Would you say the pressures of screening mirror those you have discussed?

    Much of the debate around screening (see my post or this article) focuses on other ethical considerations and discrimination, but your post has allowed me to highlight another element, so thank you!


    Word count: 162

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Scott,

      That’s an interesting point! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      I agree that employers screening candidates online correlates to inauthenticity. This is increasingly shown when you see a friends ‘professional profile’ and what they’ve written sounds nothing like how you know them to be. For instance I have friends who are very outgoing and highly opinionated but they come across extremely professional on their recruitment profiles. I guess this leads to the argument of separating your personal life from your professional one; which in a way is the healthiest thing you can do as it enables you to create some sort of work life balance.

      On another note, I’m a strong believer of being authentic all around as there is no point attracting companies who do not carry the same values as you – why hide your interests because it doesn’t fit theres? and then feel trapped at work because you can’t talk about it. I talk more about this in my post: https://eloanerochasemedo.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/118/

      Thanks again!



      1. Hi again!

        We share the same thoughts around the importance of having a personal and professional separation, but also, as you’ve suggested, the problems of inauthenticity this can create – both in terms of damaging mental health through goals of perfection, and through hiring employees who actually don’t share similar values despite suggestive profiles that had been screened.

        Often professional profiles can work for both parties in the employment process, and so there is clearly a balance to find.

        Once again, thanks Ellie for an interesting post!


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Nicely said! I would also say that this enhances the argument that recruitment should have various stages of screening; social media can’t be used alone as it has shown to have so many limitations (inauthenticity only being one of them).
        Thanks for a great discussion!


      3. Also (sorry for a second comment!), I’ve just had a quick look at your linked post on Topic 3 – what you’ve discussed is exactly the debate we’ve spoken about!

        The ‘balance’ to find must incorporate the considerations you make in the post – you speak about being authentic in step 2 but your step 3 asks users to ‘stand out from the crowd, which often may involve some in-authenticity.

        Social media screening captures the debate. Does it allow for a balance? Does it force in-authenticity, provide job opportunities, discriminate…? Is it ethical in terms of affecting your discussed well being?

        Maybe you agree with me that the issue is complex and inconclusive, so employees and employers should always try to be considerate when using social media for both personal and professional use, considering this weeks’ discussed ethics!


        Liked by 1 person

      4. no problem! And yes, i completely agree; both employees and employers should be considerate when using social media for recruitment, as i said in my previous reply – it has many limitations. Just as we are considerate about the way social media can effect our mental health , we should be cautious of how it may affect our professional life.
        thanks again!


      5. Understanding the limitations, risks and ethical considerations of social media use is key, in terms of both personal and professional use! Glad we agree, & thank you for this discussion – it has allowed me to tie our 2 topics together!


        Liked by 1 person

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