Self-Acceptance in the Social Media Age

By Dr. Perry, PhD


“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” ~Marilyn Monroe

We are living in a world where we are able to form a virtual reality presence on a number of different platforms. Currently, we have YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and numerous other social media and dating apps available to us. Many of us use these apps recreationally for a healthy amount of time. Current research shows that 88% of 18 to 29-year-olds indicate that they use some form of social media, specifically, 78% among ages 30 to 49, 64% among those ages 50 to 64 and 37% among Americans 65 and older. It is estimated there will be 2.67 billion social network users by 2018. For those able to maintain a healthy and responsible relationship with their online presence this is a wonderful way to stay connected to others. It opens a window for viewing other cultures around the world and we can see things that perhaps we are not able to see in our daily life.

Unfortunately, there are those who become overly involved in the creation and maintenance of an alter ego created to keep up with the perceived successes of others on social media. Fueled by FOMO, the fear of missing out, these individuals experience anxiety from seeing others posts on social media that feeds their need to spend an excessive amount of time on these platforms. Before long, their real lives are consumed by their inability to remove themselves from this alternate reality. Some of the social problems that arise from social media addiction include sleep depravity, anxiety, depression, deficiency in academic studies and work and anger management issues.

In some of these make-believe worlds, there is an excessive emphasis on appearance and material possessions. The compulsory need to view someone else’s life often leads to comparisons between the viewer and the images being viewed. We are being exposed to images on social media of “celebrities” who at times no longer look human. Facial features and body parts are becoming overly enhanced and distorted to the degree that it is almost comical. Except, there really is no humor in the effect it is having on some individuals. We absorb what we see and begin to think that this is the norm. We then begin to think our nose is much too big for our face, our lips are just not large enough or some other untruth based on an unreal or altered representation of beauty. We may begin to feel anxious about our lack of material possessions in comparison to someone else that we are viewing in a filtered and edited world.

In my clinical practice, I teach these 5 steps in order to loosen the grip that social media has on my patients. Here are those steps.

1. Acceptance
It is important to recognize if social media is having a negative impact on your life. If you are spending the majority of time experiencing the world through your phone or computer it is important to bring this into your awareness.

2. Realize Social Media is an illusion
Life is to be experienced by all of our senses. It should be seen, smelled, tasted, touched and heard. Social media presents us with a world edited of all its flaws. There are no worries or fears in that world. The celebrities with mass followers are flawless and ageless without a care in the world. It is easy to get caught in the illusion that if we were younger, thinner or more of something (more successful, had more friends or more anything) we would be happier. Take a moment to think about how much money is spent on marketing just to convince us all that we need something we do not have. Maybe we are not yet where we want to be, but I am sure most of us are better off than we could be.

3. Disconnect
This step is often the most difficult one. According to current 2018 research, the percentage of social media users who say it would be difficult to give up social media has increased by 12 percentage points compared with a survey conducted in early 2014. Currently, 41% of individuals that were surveyed say they would not be able to stop using social media. As this is self-reported, I believe the actual number may be larger and will steadily continue to increase. It is important to break the cycle and disconnect from the machine temporarily or permanently.

4. Set Boundaries
After a healthy amount of time away from all social media, you can begin a reintroduction phase. It is important that you have regained control over any compulsion to constantly be on social media. Healthy boundaries must be set and followed and there must be some form of accountability. By letting a friend or family member know your concerns about the effects of social media they can help you stick to your goals.

5. Find alternative forms of validation
It is quite normal to want and need validation. This validation should not come from strangers on social media. I am often surprised by the images that I see on some social media sites. The constant need for validation often drives some individuals to overshare and post risque or inappropriate images. One should seek healthy forms of validation from loved ones, family, and good friends. Further, validation should not only be based on one’s appearance or possessions.

If you have experienced some form of social media addiction and would like to share what has helped you find self-acceptance please share your thoughts in the comments section.

I hope you found this helpful. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to work with me on your mental health please click here.

Kindly,
Dr. Perry


www.MakeItUltraPsychology.com
“We specialize in a solution-focused approach to psychotherapy, specifically treating depression, anxiety, relationship issues and narcissistic abuse.”
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105 responses to Self-Acceptance in the Social Media Age

  1. Great points to be considered.

    I did have a time that I withdrawn myself completely from social media, starting with Facebook (there’s a post about that on my blog). Ever since, I realized i had way much time to enjoy everything I like, especially writing.

    However, a few months later, as l was looking for a new job, I started using LinkedIn and made lots of important connections. As my job search was related to writing, I started engaging to these people and I really am not sorry, though I wanted a permanent break from the media.

    Lucky me, my kids keep me away from becoming addicted (more than I wish, anyways, Loool).

    Thanks for reminding us of the importance of personal space.

    Liked by 10 people

  2. Best post to date. It is so scary how addictive social media can be especially to someone who can get addicted very easily! For me I find when I get to the constant loneliness that I feel from the SM world then I can escape the pattern and do other things until it lures me back in. Luckily for me I don’t long to be like the others I just want to have communication with others lol

    Liked by 10 people

  3. lynnetteok says:

    Self-acceptance is hard enough without feeling like we have to compete with air-brushed perfection. Thank you for explaining this topic so clearly.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Baydreamer says:

    This is a great post with many wonderful points. It’s scary how social media has taken over for social interaction. I see the difference it has made in younger generations. Technology has brought us many conveniences, but with those conveniences come negative effects, as well. I enjoy my blog for posting poetry, but I’m not addicted. In fact, I’ve taken numerous blog breaks, as well as, Facebook breaks. Facebook has lost its appeal for me, but I haven’t let it go just yet. 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  5. Daughter of the Promised Empowered says:

    I absolutely love this post, you make some very critical points to the discussion of self acceptance in this era. This is definitely something I have observed in the behavioral patterns of many persons who are engaged in the regular use of these platforms, it is clear to me that a validation of self is dependent on the standards established by the social media space .

    Liked by 6 people

  6. chokodeenah says:

    Great article Dr.
    Social media is really taking over our lives. First it was the young people, then the young adults, now the middle age are getting hooked too😞 its an epidemic😅
    Cheers🍻

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Indi says:

    I think it’s because I don’t need too much socialization even in “real” life that it’s easy for me to let go of social media. I haven’t updated my personal Facebook or Instagram profile pictures in years and it’s probably close to a year since an update on either. That being said, there’s something addicting about social media period, whether it’s the interface or the never ending scrolling on things such as Youtube. It’s like you get stuck scrolling down a stream of updates or videos, not even interested in all or possibly most of what you’re looking at (you didn’t search for it, it was thrown in your face). A year or two ago I used check my social media out of habit when I woke up but didn’t want to get out of bed for example, although I made no update and could care less about what I was reading/looking at. Social media isn’t just a way to connect with others, it’s a way to kill time. There are much better ways to spend your time however. I prefer online communities to typical social media, such as forums, chats and discords. They seem to offer more meaningful one on one interaction (which social media often lacks) and everyone still lives their life because there’s no one to impress on a faceless forum. Good article!

    Liked by 7 people

  8. Well said
    I often delete social media as it gets to me and I find my life is so busy and hectic and different to most that I just can’t deal with regular bullshit. People don’t realise how lucky they are to be healthy and have a life to complain about and time to find time to complain online.
    Yes I write on my blog but that’s purely for me. I don’t write often but I like to just blurp now and then as my life is a lot different to the average having two sick kids.
    Anyway thanks I will enjoy reading more of your stuff

    Liked by 6 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Hi Dina, thank you for the kind words. Please be sure to give credit and include a link back to the original post if you do. Kind regards✨

      Liked by 4 people

  9. mike says:

    Reblogged this on dharmaholic and commented:
    Dr. Perry makes this point: Who am I when I’m posting on Social Media. Well, he doesn’t actually use those exact words, but the voice inside my head heard that!

    Liked by 7 people

  10. Drizzleflash says:

    Great post! As a teen I understand particularly how debilitating social media can be to people’s self-esteem and mental health. I disabled my Instagram last month and it’s unbelievable how much more productive I’ve gotten.

    Liked by 7 people

  11. Hilary Tan says:

    Just got rid of the last social media thing I had – fb messenger. Even that was making me unhappy because I felt like I had to keep up with everyone. And there are so many negative people online. I don’t need that kind of energy especially when I am depressed myself. I realized that much of my mood was linked to what other people were doing and I was never happy. I should be grateful but I was constantly comparing myself to everyone else.

    Liked by 7 people

  12. katemantis says:

    A much needed article and line of advice. Social media, just like any other tool needs a responsible user. I am optimistic that on the whole, the use of it will have positive effects. For me, it was a way to connect with people around the world, to make friends that I would’ve never encountered otherwise. It is also the place where you might have nasty experiences too. Yet, we all learn to handle life, even in the virtual space. But guidance, support, good advice is most welcome.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Good input katemantis. Some people get great use from Facebook or other social media. Like with other things there are pros and cons. For me, I think the cons outweigh the pros. But my wife, for example, the pros outweigh the cons. But I do also think that there may be bigger risks with Facebook being so big and influential. It has a greater population than China or India! I’m not trusting the leader, Mark Zuckerberg……

      Liked by 4 people

      • katemantis says:

        I am optimistic by nature and I have faith in human nature. But I am also aware that these social media changed a lot human connections mainly in the Western/industrialised countries. Yes, I agree that it’s slightly annoying to see so many people, especially young ones with their nose stuck in the cell phones. But they will get over it as they mature. If not, that means society is changing and future looks different than we imagined. There’s also a tendency to over estimate Facebook. I live in a country where there are still large number of people living a life without it. And so it’s the planet. I have a feeling that Facebook or any other such connection would be less used if we would not be running all our lives, almost 24 hours a day to get more, to surpass others or simply to survive from one day to another. A slower and more human, meaningful life would allow us to connect, to talk and listen to people at hand. I am grateful to Facebook for some of the most wonderful people I have met there, people from all walks of life and from faraway countries. I have found knowledge, culture, causes, ideals here. I have found a planet at hand, without having to travel. My friends from USA, India, Japan, Canada, UK, Thailand, Indonesia etc are my neighbors. So, it’s all in how you make use of social media, internet, books, tools etc. “Est modus in rebus” says the Ancient wisdom. There has to be a measure/ balance in everything. Then you can enjoy it and also keep an eye on Mr. Zuckerberg. 😉

        Liked by 4 people

        • Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I’m glad you’re an optimist and not cynical. You mention some of the pros to Facebook, and I’m glad it’s served you well. Better, I’m glad you have the wisdom and self-control to use it well. You struck a chord with me on “slow” living…and balance in life. If only I and others could practice it more! I’ll keep trying. Take care!

          Liked by 5 people

  13. Good points and writing. I agree social media addiction is a thing. Tristan Harris has a lot to say about it and how it’s designed to be addictive. I happen to have a post about it publishing this morning at Jason Journals. I think a little self-discipline or self-control helps keep social media in moderation. I do find it’s a slippery slope at times. Overall I try to minimize exposure. And thanks to the recent Facebook data exploitation with Cambridge Analytica, I may just delete my Facebook account (again).

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Dr. Perry I agree with you 100% Social media is the 21st century’s peril. I feel lucky to have been born at a time when there was less of technology and more of in person social interactions. People nowadays are ending up in their own mental prisons. They try to live their lives as per the social media standards without realising everything over there is a sham. It’s been a while since I’ve quit social media and believe me I’ve never been happier. I can utilise my time and energy into more fruitful things and save myself from all the anxiety caused by looking at somebody’s ‘happening’ life.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. floatinggold says:

    Great post.
    I often wonder about no.5. Why is it that we seek approval from others? Why is their perception of us so important to our self-confidence and image. I don’t think I value it as much as others, but it really is a curious subject to me.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Miriam says:

    I think to a degree we’re all a bit addicted (otherwise I wouldn’t be here now) but the important thing is to maintain that balance and not let it over ride reality. This is an excellent post with plenty to ponder.

    Liked by 6 people

  17. Paula says:

    You make many valid points in this post. Thanks for doing some research too. That counts a lot in how I perceive your take on this. The way I use the internet and social media has changed over time. I learned on a couple of them to just leave those people in a “never land” where I can see them when I choose, but not have their posting in my feeds. It takes some of the negativity away. I haven’t found it necessary to leave social media altogether. My social life is active outside of my home and I get the positive reinforcement I need. I think it’s okay to want affirmation of our worth and appreciation for who we are. I get that often and it helps me get through a moment sometimes.

    One thing I chose to give up for a while is the purchase of books: physical or ebook. Honestly, I already have enough books. I thought it might be difficult but I’m finding I don’t mind. Reading is a good thing, but if I never bought another book, I’d still have enough to read for at least 18 months. Now THAT’S an addiction! Thanks again, Dr. Perry.

    Liked by 7 people

  18. You make great points! And by the very design of social media it can be hard to limit how much time you spend with it. It’s far too easy to scroll through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for hours only to realize you didn’t have time to do something that might have actually made you happier. Plus there’s this feeling of false urgency that you have to keep up with every single post.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. This is great!! Im dealing with a 16yr old. Its so hard to understand her and the anxietys she faces… This was a view into thier world of technology. Thanks!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Joni says:

      I have an “almost” 16 year old and a 17 year old. One deals with anxiety and it’s so hurtful to watch. I am constantly looking for new ways to help her.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Hello again Dr. I finished translating your article. I’ll send you its link once its published on my blog. I just need to know your full name for the credits and acknowledgement section, if possible.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. violakaroly says:

    I think oversharing happens a lot when you feel emotionally vulnerable and don’t have a proper outlet. It’s painful. As someone with naturally large lips, the trend of plumping disturbs me. It’s almost like a fetish nowadays.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Phoenix says:

    Social media (especially Facebook) praises people for making their lives an illusion of perfection. They show their wonderful trip to Cozumel, but they don’t show you their credit card debt.

    Liked by 7 people

  23. Completely agree with this, I made a conscious effort to put my phone down and I try to do my social media for my business on my computer so my children see me working rather than just on my phone. (even though I would have been doing the same thing on my phone, my children don’t see it that way). Great article, good read.

    Liked by 5 people

  24. Hi! What a useful post. I absented myself from screens and all reading matter for a week…I had so much time, I couldn’t believe it! There was nothing else to do but get creative… and I just made stuff. Love Marilyn quotes – she also said ‘I don’t want money, I just want to be wonderful’….but she was already wonderful!

    Liked by 4 people

  25. zuhrafunna says:

    Great article Dr. Perry, now I just realize that I have spent alot time for useless thing. Its really hard for stop using social medial, u know, as introvert like me so diffficult to make freinds in outside, and I rather spent time in social media than make a friends 😦

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Farah Bee says:

    Great post. I was just talking to my psychologist about this during my last session. I decided it’s time for me to cut back on my social media usage. Deleted my Facebook book app. If I wasn’t into photography I’d delete Instagram as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Bindu says:

    Great points and suggestions made. Being true to self is primary. Truthfulness begins there and carries forward to the those next to and around us.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Hilary Tan says:

    My issue is getting caught up in the past. I don’t have friends from high school or elementary school and yet I find myself looking them up from time to time to see where they’re at in life. It would be awkward to reach out to them so I don’t. I feel like I’m living life behind a lens, and seeing their lives makes me feel inadequate. I feel forgotten which is the worst feeling. A lot of them turned out to be losers but I still have this need to self-compare and massage the ego. Many of them have kids, unmarried, low-income jobs, let themselves go etc. And yet I feel inadequate with my own life. I need help 😔 I don’t want to think about them and feel like I’ve been forgotten. I just want to be remembered and I know this is my ego screaming for attention and validation 😞

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Yes there are times where I need a break from social media Facebook is the biggest one . Too much drama , to much who’s got what , it’s like a competition to keep up . Do love my blog followers . I can still at least be me on here . Thanks for reminding us , very interesting post.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. ceejhane says:

    Thank you for your post. After I read your blog I just realized that using too much social media is not useful to me because at times I compared myself with other people based on what I saw in their post. But thank you for reminding me that I should accept who I am and not to rely too much on social media 🙂 Please keep on posting inspirational and informative blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Swathi says:

    It is so true that we get so consumed by the virtual space that is a mirage. People tend to portray a life that is not even real. Comparision and jealousy is a major cause for anxiety I believe. When you cannot go on a trip and see your news feed filled with post of #wanderlust it gets difficult not to react. I have reduced the use of social media by using it only when I complete my work for the day. Prioritising helps.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Peterbread says:

    As someone who’s had plenty of issues with anxiety and confidence which greatly affected my ability to be accepted I’ve learnt to use it in a positive way. This platform being the most therapeutic.

    It’s also a great way to connect with people in a more comfortable way but hopefully leading to real life connections as getting caught in the online bubble as you say won’t help long term.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I can admit to being addicted to social media, it’s had a negative impact on my life and I really need to pull away and finally accept that I have a life outside of it. I guess that my anxiety is the main reason I hide behind the screen but maybe if I stop doing that then I can overcome my anxiety :).
    Wow… that was deep

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Tanja Stoeski says:

    Great article and definitely resonates with many people out there. The more people are mindful of this, the better.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. M. Oniker says:

    Rollingstone has an excellent (long read) article about Facebook https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-facebook-can-we-be-saved-social-media-giant-w518655 , mainly dealing with the whole “we get our news from Facebook” thing, but it also has a lot of interesting back info, including this bit:
    That Facebook saw meteoric rises without ever experiencing a big dip in users might have something to do with the fact that the site was consciously designed to be addictive, as early founder Parker recently noted at a conference in Philadelphia.

    Facebook is full of features such as “likes” that dot your surfing experience with neuro-rushes of micro-approval – a “little dopamine hit,” as Parker put it. The hits might come with getting a like when you post a picture of yourself thumbs-upping the world’s third-largest cheese wheel, or flashing the “Live Long and Prosper” sign on International Star Trek day, or whatever the hell it is you do in your cyber-time. “It’s a social-validation feedback loop,” Parker explained. “Exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

    They are designed to be addictive! I’m aware of all of this and try to keep the 👍 mentality to a minimum. My Facebook presence is next to nil and I try to blog without an audience in mind, but boy is it tough. I take virtual photographs for my own pleasure but check too frequently to see if there is a Flickr ✰ of approval! For those of us who rely on the Internet for the majority of their social interaction this is a tough line to walk.

    You posted an excellent article and one I need to return to periodically to get my virtual-reality check.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Droosa4real says:

    I really agree to the “facade” of social media. I left Facebook a year ago with zero remorse because it is as I like to refer to it as Fakebook. I enjoy Instagram as I am able to avoid people’s opinions about everything and really only get to see what I like. I recently started my WordPress blog as a platform I can use to follow like minded people and topics that interest me.

    Liked by 3 people

  37. Thank you so much for this! I’ve actually been thinking about this so much recently – I’ve always tried to distance myself mostly from Facebook, and I other than that I only really use WordPress. Despite this, as a non-sociable person, it sometimes becomes so hard to see the shining, active lives of others who seem to receive so much love every time I log onto Facebook, even though I know I’m also living a good life. What I’ve started to do is only go online once I receive past a certain number of notifications – it’s helped me keep my distance and maintain my sanity. I also find that being more involved in my main passion – writing – has helped me keep my mind clearer and remember that I don’t need the comments, likes, and posts for validation. It’s all still a work in progress, but I’m on the right track, I think. Once we’re aware that there’s a problem, we’re already a step in the right direction!

    Liked by 2 people

  38. zeesviews says:

    People have thousands friends on social media but in reality they are all alone🙇‍♀️
    Beautifully written and these points are really valuable to consider😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Perry says:

      The amount of social media you use is a personal decision based on how you feel when you use it. If it is interfering with your life or having a negative impact on you then I would suggest cutting back on it. You may also be able to tell if you have an issue if taking a daily or weekly break is difficult✨

      Liked by 2 people

  39. The article is very relevant in today’s world where social media is synonymous with social life. One of the paradoxes of the 21st century is that media is paid to create a need in the minds of people for a particular product or service whereas, on the other hand, we run after fulfillment.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. I am personally concerned for my husband. He is constantly on his phone, whether for work, texting people, and social media. He is constantly multitasking because their are situations where he needs to have it but I often feel like I have to fight for his attention because when he isn’t on his phone, its by the end of the day and he wants to zone in on some TV. I don’t really know what to do but accept that he is on his phone most the time when I am with him.
    Aside from my husband, I get tired of the way people use their phone too much. I am very much an eye contact person, and it just seems so rude to me to have a phone out when your spending time with someone.
    In my life, I have deleted Instagram and snapchat. I don’t have a Facebook. I still use my phone for entertainment or to pass the time, but I don’t want to get to the point where I am addicted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Thank you for sharing your insight. Perhaps by sharing this article and your comment you can begin to have a dialogue about your concerns✨

      Like

  41. This is great! I take between 1-1.5 hours per day for myself to make sure I am giving myself the self-love that is truly needed in order to maintain my authentic, happy self. ❤ Thank you for these great reminders! ❤ Mental health is most important for us all. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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