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How Social Media Impacts Self Perception

Modern technology has allowed our personal circles to intertwine into global communities. Study groups made by group chats, Snapping your bestie a puppy, or even FaceTiming family members across the country are all made possible by tiny hand-held blocks.

There is a dark side to this technology as well; people are capable of becoming addicted to social media. Dr. Mauricio Delgado, director of the Lab for Social Affective Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers-Newark, says this is due to the social reinforcement function of these applications. Social reinforcement, according to Delgado’s explanation, is the “Likes” on posts, or even positive comments. This social reinforcement, Delgado says, is what may fire up the reward circuits in your brain.

Addiction to social media is not absolute, according to Delgado. However, what happens if you are addicted? Are there negative consequences?

According to a study by Penn State, and reported by BBC, users of social media tend to have lower self esteem since they compare themselves to people’s online personas–which are usually portrayed as happy.

Petya Eckler from the Glasgow University of Strathclyde told BBC that spending time on sites such as Facebook shows a connection to poor body image, mainly due to the attention to physical attributes and the fact that our feeds are filled with people we know.

“These comparisons are much more relevant and hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic as the images we see on traditional media,” Eckler said in her BBC interview.

The next time your classmate posts a beautiful selfie, just remember that a person’s social media is heavily filtered to reveal only the highlights of their day. Everyone has days of doubt, days of low self esteem, and days riddled with stress. Social media is not absolute, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Victoria Valenzuela is a graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Her focus is on broadcast journalism, and she hopes to one day be a Newscast Producer. Currently, Victoria works full-time as a Marketing and Accounting Specialist.
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