By Bolaji Gelax
Earlier this year, before the whole world was thrown into disarray, I was having my usual debate on WhatsApp where I bring up topics and encourage my contacts to share their thoughts. This particular day, the conversation was quite intense but out of the blues, one of my sisters, Curio, sent me the most random question, asking why she hadn’t been seeing me on Instagram.
Good question, I thought.
See, we all know what Instagram is primarily for.
Oh, you don’t?
I’ll tell you. Instagram is for SHOW-OFF.
Of all the social media platforms, Instagram is the one place that most encourages you to display what is going on in your world; or in the world you specifically design for that purpose –if you know what I mean.
I’m a girl who prides herself in being very assertive and self-confident. I’ve always known what I want and what I can’t take. BUT with all that self-assurance, I found out that there is a force that tends to be stronger than me from time to time, one that constantly needs to be nipped in the bud. And that is the almighty social media.
Let’s paint a somewhat familiar scenario, okay?
Imagine you had the shittiest day at work, and on the bus home you decide to take your mind off how shitty your day has been by logging into one of your social media accounts, only to see the news about a 17-year-old boy who just signed a multi-million dollar deal because he joined an online challenge.
Aaargh… Definitely not what you need to ‘relax.’
So, you close that app and open the next one, and boom! The first picture you see is that of your former classmate posing in front of a shining black benz. Borrow-pose, you chuckle and scroll down. Next on your feed is a video showing how this your classmate had been proposed to by her longtime boyfriend with the shining black benz.
Quickly, you scroll back up and this time you notice the heavy rock on her fourth left finger. Something you had missed just seconds ago because… Well, you know why.
Oh great! You sigh, turn off your mobile data and turn your phone into your bag. “I’ve had just about enough for a day”, you tell yourself as you sink back into the smelly seat of the bus.
You get home and your younger brother tells you there’s been no power supply all day. With nothing else to do to while away time, you return to social media to read more about the young artist that just got signed and to drop a “Congrats, darling 🥰” on your former classmate’s wall so people don’t think you’re not happy for her. Even though you’re not. I mean, why does it seem like everyone else’s life is in order but yours? You don’t hate her, or the new signee- you’re just not happy “everyone” is having it better than you.
You see, social media can be such a wonderful platform to connect with people, network, build and develop your brand/market. We’ve heard stories like the fictional one above where people get life-changing encounters with minimal efforts on social media. Big and small brands are clinging to these platforms in order to connect to potential and existing consumers.
Back to why my sister hadn’t been seeing me on Instagram. As I stated earlier, I’m very assertive and although I constantly need social media to promote my works, I deliberately take breaks from it every once in a while to refocus and take a breath. I refuse to deceive myself into believing I’m stronger than the menace social media can be.
Social media is a whole world on its own. A world that is more often than not different from the real world. People create a façade (intentionally or not) on social media for various reasons. This charade has been proven to have both positive and mostly negative effects on others.
The world is such that we now tend to seek validation on social media. You post something genuine and you get minimal likes or engagement, but put up a charade and your phone’s battery drains rapidly from all the comments you have to respond to. You are subconsciously inclined to toll that path the next time you want to upload content on your social media platforms.
What this does is that, over time, you start looking for ways to beef up your reality to make it more appealing. And if care is not taken, the line between reality and facade is blurred and you honestly may not be able to tell how diluted you are.
Social media has also proven to be a way people, especially the younger generation, distract themselves from their unpleasant realities. Seeking solace on social media platforms only allows you pass on your frustration unto another who might equally be battling with his/her own demons.
We also have the set of people called the keypad warriors. Those persons who are very vocal and opinionated on social media. Those with the loudest voice whenever there is a discussion, irrespective of the topic. In reality, they are timid. Such persons hide behind the power of technology and social media to bash others, give unsolicited advices, misinform, spread fake news and hate speeches and even cyberbully.
They seem to thrive on spewing just about anything, mostly unthoughtful words and opinions just to garner a large number of following meanwhile, in real life, they can hardly express themselves with a full sentence.
In a twisted way, this doesn’t only affect the victims’ self-esteem but the perpetrators as well.
Another way I believe social media affects one’s self esteem is that this intended tool of communication has the power to make one feel less important or accomplished. You see other people flaunt their flamboyant lifestyle on social media and you begin to make unhealthy comparison to your life.
It’s crazy because in all of these showoffs, hardly 1% tells or shows how long or by what means they attained that lifestyle and there you are questioning your legit hustles.
Back to why I was off instagram: I was at a fragile phase in my life. It was a time when I knew without doubt I could easily be influenced, and reminded of all that wasn’t going on right in my life. And you will agree with me that INFLUENCE is the core of social media.
If I asked you and you were to answer sincerely, can you say categorically that certain news, pictures, accounts or personalities on social media have never made you, for once, double back and ask, “God when”.
I could go on telling why you shouldn’t compare your journey to others’ because you’re not on the same race, but I bet you must have heard it over and again, so I’ll just skip the episode and say,
MIND YOUR BUSINESS
MIND YOUR RACE
MIND YOUR MIND.
Yes, your mind is your most powerful too, which is why you must pay attention to what you feed it. Your life can be moulded or destroyed from your mind.
- Watch what you feed your mind and limit the degree of power you give social media to influence your mind.
- Be mindful of the things you consume on social media platforms.
- Don’t lose yourself in a bit to provide content or chase clout for you followers on social media.
- It’s absolutely okay to take time off social media. People may not even notice you are away, so why not?
Bolaji Gelax is a beautiful, amazing Nigerian writer who really should consider just moving to Uganda. According to her website she is a gorgeous, sassy radio junkie who enjoys playing devil’s advocate. She loves everything that makes me happy, which includes the Stars in her #Galaxy. They call her MISS FLOWERY because she brings good vibes, love and light. Feel free to explore her world: https://gelaxchatroom.com/
6 thoughts on “How Social Media Affects Self Esteem..”
Thank you for honestly saying what needed to be said.
Thanks to Mables for initiating it. And thank you for reading.
This is a powerful post and a conversation we need to have
This is exactly what I needed to read about because sometimes it’s so difficult to not ask the”God when” question when scrolling through social media
I sincerely enjoyed reading this. But I’ve come to the realization, a long time ago, that social media is the explanation of the saying “All that glitters is not gold”.
Life is an individual race. The sooner you realize and accept that your lane differs from others’, the better for you else you’ll just let yourself get worked up under avoidable and unnecessary pressure.
Thank you for this.