Social Media: Comparison Culture and Self-Esteem

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Posted 135 days ago
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Social Media: Comparison Culture and Self-Esteem

Written by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

Social Media has become part of our daily lives. Stories, posts and reels tell us something about others around us, as well as influencing how we see ourselves. While this can seem harmless, when we start comparing ourselves to others via these platforms, our self-esteem can take a knock.

It may seem ironic that this January we are exploring the impact of socials using our own Social Media platform. However Social Media is not all bad and can be used to motivate, inspire and make positive connections with others. 


What is Comparison Culture?

Social Media is often used to showcase the best moments in someone’s life. This curated and ‘perfect’ content might be enjoyable to post and view, but it can make you feel your life is lacking in comparison.   Being regularly exposed to flawless appearances, impressive achievements, or extreme wealth means we can start to measure our worth against unrealistic standards.


How Does Social Media Affect Self-Esteem?

Comparing ourselves with influencers, celebrities and the perfect image portrayed by our friends can make us feel inadequate. This may wrongly cause us to worry we are unsuccessful, ugly, poor, unfit, or undesirable. 

Our self-esteem may plummet if we feel our lives do not measure up to the ideal image being broadcast. Self-esteem might also take a hit if we experience FOMO (fear of missing out) or cyberbullying.


How Can I Prevent Negative Effects?

There are several effective ways to reduce the chance of Social Media making you feel inadequate.

 1 Mindful Consumption

Pay attention to the content you view. If an account triggers feelings of inadequacy or sadness, unfollow it. Instead, fill your feed with content that promotes positivity, authenticity and diversity.

2 Question Post Accuracy

Remind yourself that people usually share their highlights, not their everyday struggles. While their life might look perfect online, the reality could be quite different.

 3 Limit Screen Time

Put boundaries in place for Social Media - spending hours scrolling can intensify comparison culture. Set time aside to do offline activities that make you feel relaxed, energised or fulfilled.

4 Express Gratitude

Grab a notebook and reflect on your own achievements, qualities and experiences. Developing a mindset of gratitude can counteract the negative effects of comparison.

5 Build a Support System

Make genuine connections with family and friends offline. This is a great reality check to remind you that you have value beyond online metrics.

6 Be Authentic

If you feel comfortable, share both your triumphs and challenges to contribute to a more genuine online culture.


While Social Media can be a powerful tool for connection and expression, its impact on self-esteem needs to be remembered. Following our tips to prevent the negative effects of comparison culture can allow Social Media to enhance, rather than diminish, your self-esteem. If Social Media is a big part of your life, try to balance the online world with positive offline friendships and connections. 

Posted by Dr Hannah Farnsworth

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