Today, it can seem like curating your social media presence is just as important as spending time with your loved ones offline. Posting occasionally on social media isn’t necessarily harmful.However, if you feel like you’re constantly seeking out positive attention online, it can seem as though you’re trying to fit a certain mold in order to get likes. You might spend hours every day scrolling through your social media feeds. When you’re not editing content for your own page, you’re browsing someone else’s and wondering what they have that you don’t. Here’s why we feel so invested in being liked online and why it can be damaging in the long run.
Lots of people struggle with loneliness nowadays. This is especially true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. But when you’re getting likes for your social media content or even your comments on anonymous message boards, it can feel like you’re not so alone anymore.
However, this illusion of community can be dangerous. While people do turn online friendships into real-life connections, simply getting likes on your photos or comments is not the same as having a genuine friendship with someone.
Why does getting likes feel so good, anyway? It’s all because of a chemical called dopamine. This chemical is released in our brains during pleasurable experiences. Eating a donut, playing with a puppy, or getting a compliment from a friend all prompt your brain to release dopamine.
The same happens when you get a “like” on social media. Naturally, you want to feel that way again, so you continue posting. It’s a powerful sensation that can drastically influence your behavior.
Wanting to Fit In
Sometimes, it can feel like posting online gives you membership to a certain community — at least, in the virtual sphere. Perhaps you follow other people who share certain beliefs that you do, or describe themselves with the same labels. You may not know many people offline who understand you in this way. Therefore, you feel like you need to post consistently and even maintain a certain aesthetic to fit in. But this can mean putting yourself in a box and not expressing yourself fully. “Fitting in” can come at the cost of individuality.
Do you ever catch yourself taking photos on a vacation and posting them immediately, even if you would prefer to put your phone down and take a break from the internet for a while? Or maybe you feel like you have to share on social media when you go out to dinner, attend a celebration, or stay out late at a party. Maybe you don’t even know most of the people who follow you — and yet you feel the need to impress them. The drive to impress other people can compel us to post on social media.
Temporary Self-Esteem Boost
Overall, sharing content on social media and getting likes for it can temporarily boost your self-esteem. When it feels like other people appreciate you, it’s only natural that you might get a momentary confidence boost. But on the other hand, this boost is truly temporary.
If your positive self-image is linked to posting on social media, you’ll always feel the need to post regularly. It can take you away from your real life. And if your content stops receiving likes, you might notice yourself feeling isolated and depressed without the frequent validation from followers.
Struggling To Cut Back On Social Media?
Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.