When perfectionism is driving us, shame is always riding shotgun and fear is the backseat driver
— Brené Brown
I believe most of us are aware that there is no such thing as a perfect person.
But even though we are armed with this knowledge, perfectionism in our world continues to grow at a rapid rate. New research states that perfectionism has increased by at least one-third since 1989. It seems that more and more people are setting impossible standards for themselves as each day passes. The overall effects on the public’s mental health are staggering.
Is social media playing a big part in this rapid growth of perfectionism?
As a social media strategist, I spend copious amounts of time on various social media platforms. A large portion of that time is used to research the habits and trends of targeted demographics. One of the most glaring reoccurring themes that I have noticed, is people’s tendency to make posts that paint a perfect picture of their lives.
This creates a trap for viewers with high standards and low self-esteem. I have seen many people fall into this trap and become depressed that their lives are not as spectacular and perfect as those of the people they encounter on social media.
These posts can also have severe negative effects on the original poster of the content. It is easy for the lines of reality and fiction to become blurred, leading to feelings of inadequacy. By creating a false representation of their lives online; these individuals set themselves up for a myriad of serious mental health issues. The realization that their ‘real lives’ will never measure up to their fabricated online personas can be extremely harmful.
One of the biggest problems we face as a society today is online bullying. This epidemic can intensify the feelings of insecurity and low self-worth in its victims. It is downright amazing how brave people get when they are behind the screen of a phone, tablet, or computer. I have seen some atrocious comments from people who would never have the courage to say such things in a live public setting.
The dark side of social media is that, within seconds, anything can be blown out of proportion and taken out of context. And it’s very difficult not to get swept up in it all.
— Nicola Formichetti
Awareness is Key
As with any other social issue, being aware and spreading awareness are two of the main keys to reaching a positive solution. Regulating the device usage of ourselves and our families is a helpful strategy to implement in our lives. Social media is a great way to express ourselves, connect with old friends, and make new acquaintances.
But on the flip side, it can become detrimental to our health when misused or overconsumed. Mindful moderation will help reverse the negative side effects of too much scrolling. Let’s remember that ‘real life’ is taking place outside of our devices and a ‘perfect life’ does not exist.