Expanding on my previous post, I want to explore the interaction between identity and self-worth, but in the context of social media.
Social role influences identity.
As stated previously, I am using Erickson’s model of identity as derived from one’s social role. When one has a low sense of self-worth, they may take on roles aimed at gaining a sense of self-worth through external validation. ‘The hero’ role is one possible way to achieve this validation, as I described in the context of the family.
Social injustices can influence self-worth.
Beyond the family, low self-worth can be the result of an infinite number of traumas, social injustices, and other forms of violence. Some may include stigmas or discrimination based on one’s race, class, gender, level of ability, body image, or any other social bias that works to dehumanize, invalidate, and classify a specific ‘type’ of person.
Specific roles may be used to cope with low self-worth from social invalidation.
Recall the roles often played to gain validation in the family context. Some take on the hero role, seeking praise for their achievements. Some become jokesters, making others laugh while suppressing their inner turmoil. Some become rebels, seeking approval from deviant peer-groups. Lastly, some may retreat into isolation. These same roles can be played in the context of social media.
Hero roles can be sought in social media.
Previously, I talked about heroes as perfectionists and high achievers, seeking parental validation. Beyond this limited definition, social media heroes come in many forms, seeking external validation through posts. Recent neurological research used functional neuroimaging data finding “gains in reputation” to be the primary reward stimulus for individuals displaying compulsive social media use. In simple terms, seeking self-worth through likes.
Using social media for validation makes us less satisfied.
A 2016 study surveyed 1787 19-32 year old men and women, finding social media use was “was significantly associated with increased depression.” Another 2016 study found “taking a break from Facebook has positive effects on the two dimensions of well-being: our life satisfaction increases and our emotions become more positive.”
How you use social media makes a difference.
According to another 2016 study on the correlation between Facebook and well-being found, “specific uses of the site were associated with improvements in well-being.” So what made the difference? Individuals who used Facebook to build relationships with strong ties received the benefits, while those who used it for wide broadcasting did not.
We need to recognize how the roles we play influence our identity.
In addition, we need to recognize how our fundamental sense of self-worth affects the type of roles we take on. Our self-worth can be damaged by toxic family environments, in addition to a host of additional forms of social violence and traumas. Prevention requires combating these negative social influences.
For those struggling with these issues, you are not alone.
This is a very common issue that can be treated through psychological treatments, counseling, support groups, in addition to writing and introspection. Treatment looks different for each individual, based on their unique experiences. Based on my research into evidence for psychotherapeutic treatments, Cogitative-behavioral approaches seem to have the highest level of evidence supporting their effectiveness. Although this is the case, non-therapeutic factors such as therapist-patient relationship and therapist empathy are also correlated with effective treatment.
Internet addiction is becoming increasingly recognized.
If you are seeking treatment for internet addiction, talk to your health care provider about coverage. In my home province of Ontario, these services are offered free of charge, including residential treatment programs, due to their association with government funded problem gambling treatment services. Although this may greatly very between jurisdictions, it is still worth looking into.
Hopefully this post has been helpful. I am always interested in hearing your thoughts, so feel free to share them below. Comments under my previous post have actually been a major inspiration for this one. I look forward to continuing to provide value, and your feedback is a huge part of that! Thanks for reading!