A woman scrolls through her Instagram feed

Social Media Is Just a Highlight Reel

Social Media Is Just a Highlight Reel

Scrolling through Instagram, I constantly see celebrities and influencers wearing expensive outfits on expensive vacations. Their lives look perfect. Their faces and bodies are perfectly airbrushed. I expect this because they are celebrities and influencers, not “real people.” It does not bother me much anymore because we know that their job is to make their lives seem perfect online. I do not, however, expect this from our peers. I see photos of our peers on vacations, at sporting events, and smiling with friends. I wonder, am I not living my life to the fullest? Would my life be better if I was able to vacation more? These are real people, not celebrities, so what they post on social media must reflect their perfect life. This thinking can lead to us comparing our life to another person's highlight reel. A highlight reel is a collection of pictures that people choose to highlight their life. It is not representative of their whole life, just the parts they want people to see. 

This is just one of the reasons why social media can be detrimental to one's self-esteem. According to the study Social Comparison, Social Media, and Self-Esteem at the University of Toledo, the “frequency of Facebook use was negatively correlated with self-esteem.” Not only that but the “frequency of Facebook use was also associated with an increase in the extent to which participants reported making social comparisons on Facebook” (Vogel, Rose, Roberts, Eckles, 4). Particularly for women, social media opens a door to comparison. The study “Selfie” harm: Effects on Mood and Body Image in Young Women at York University was the “first experimental study showing that taking and posting selfies on social media causes adverse psychological effects for women” (Mills, Musto, Williams, Tiggeman, 1). The study found that “appearance concerns were heightened when women interact with and construct their social media profiles, manifesting in poorer body image and mood” (Mills, Musto, Williams, Tiggeman, 5). Overall, these studies show that using social media correlates with feelings of lower self-esteem, body image, and mood. 

It is hard to stop comparing myself to others when scrolling. It is also hard to stop self-criticism when using social media, whether I am posting myself, or scrolling through others' feeds. It is important to remind ourselves that social media is just a highlight reel and what someone posts on social media is not representative of their whole life. 



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