Social media is one of the many marvels of today’s society. It allows us to keep in contact with loved ones, reconnect with old acquaintances, and find and interact with like minded people and groups. It’s allowed many ideas and beliefs to become wide spread which has in turn furthered human civilization. We are all able to make large groups of friends from all over the world and mix and mesh different cultures! Social media sounds pretty amazing, right? It is not without its demerits, though. One being a big hit on our mental health.

We all want to be the best versions of ourselves. We should strive to be a better person each and every day. For some, it then begs the question “Who am I trying to be better than?” Your ultimate opponent should be the man/woman/person in the mirror but social media has now added another opponent for most of us: everyone else. Conscious or subconsciously we go online and compare ourselves and our lives with everyone else’s. Some can catch themselves and snap out of it and get back to the betterment of their own lives. Others can get trapped in the sunken place of the competition for validation. The constant need for more and more validation can be addicting for some, and it can lead people into trying to show off a more synthetic version of themselves. Validation can become one hell of a drug for those susceptible to it, and social media is weakening our resistance to over validation.

In my opinion, validation is one of the biggest aspects of social media. It is what drives people to post the absolute best pictures of themselves. It is what gives some people energy. For others, it is a nice boost every now and then. Normally, validation is a nice way for someone to appreciate something about you. Social media has warped validation and made it something people seek out like a drug. You need to have at least 1000 likes or 20000 shares to be “valid”. Validation has warped social media and it’s more pure intentions for the worse and that in turn has had a profound effect on the mental health of those who use it. There are more people reporting anxiety and depression symptoms due to social media every year and it’s only getting worse. The constant comparisons and self-esteem blows due to perceived inadequacy have become commonplace in our society.

Always trying to be better than the next person is healthy in retrospect, but it can be harmful in excess. Living each day to be the most seen individual can be grating on one’s self esteem and how they feel about themselves. Especially if the validation been sought out isn’t being received. For some, the feeling is quite jarring, and they can then withdraw into themselves. For others, the excess in validation can lead to bigheadedness and some more narcissistic traits coming out. On either end of the spectrum, the validation aspect of social media has most definitely had a negative affect on how people feel about themselves. The best lives we see some live may actually be a mask to a more depressive life in reality. This will keep some from getting the help they need to get out of the hole that comparing themselves to others put them in. Thus social media can be a stimulus to the anxiety and depression we feel and also be the gatekeeper to the help we need.

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