I think there has been a time in our lives when we have wanted to be popular. In school, the prettiest girl always got all the boys, was invited to prom by the cutest guy, was awarded homecoming queen, etc. There’s something very desirable about being popular and all the attention that comes with it.
Social media is a great way to give yourself a self-esteem boost. You upload a new picture and you get a lot of attention on it, and the more likes you get, the better you feel about yourself. I think sometimes people often believe that people who are popular are the happiest. Contrary to popular belief, that is not always the case.
Your number of “likes’ does not define you
Let’s just say you’ve had a pretty bad day. Maybe you and your boyfriend broke up, you lost your job, or something else happened that made you feel like you’re at a really low point in your life.
But, on the bright side, you feel like you look good today so you take a quick selfie and post it on your social media. Over the next 24 hours you get a lot of likes and comments. All of this will make you feel better temporarily, and the more likes and comments you get, the more likely you’ll be perceived by others that you’re up pretty highly on the social ladder.
What all these people don’t know is what happened during that day or how crappy you feel. It’s not uncommon to get lost in the completely fake world that is social media.
Do not envy those who are popular
“Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.” – Buddha
You have to really sit down and think about this one. Think about a friend who you rarely see because they are constantly engaging in other social commitments. You would have to be okay with hardly ever having a moment to yourself, and you would have to keep up your image through social media.
Imagine how exhausting that must be. Not only do you have to maintain the life you lead off the internet, but then keep up with the one you have through the internet. You have to ask yourself this question, “what value will being popular add to my life?” The answer to this can be quite simple, we all want to feel a sense of connection and belonging.
By trying to maintain a ton of relationships with people, you will most likely end up feeling worn thin and become unhappy and miserable.
Dr. Brian Gillespie, who is an assistant professor of sociology at Sonoma State University, discusses that by trying to maintain a relationship with a large number a people compared to your small core group of close supporters, you’re setting yourself up to suffer from something sociologists refer to as a “role strain”. Meaning when a person has many social obligations such as their giving their time and energy, they become frustrated and are unable to meet the expectations of their social role, such as being a friend.
Gillespie says, “it’s stressful when you’re trying to be too many things for too many people.”
He further goes on to discuss three main attributes that a good friend should have:
- emotional support (post-breakup talks)
- instrumental support (helping you move)
- companionate support (watching your favorite tv show with you)
Ideally, it would be great if a friend has all three, but it’s important to have at least two attributes. Friendships are about quality. When you surround yourself with people who have these, you will notice that your need to be accepted by many people will diminish. In fact, you may begin to prefer your circle to be smaller.
It could affect your health
As previously stated, by trying to maintain a number of relationships with people you not only tire yourself out mentally but also physically. In the short term, you may find that by always having plans to meet up with people throughout your day, you will eventually exhaust yourself. You lack sleep and resting time to recoup from all that exerted energy. Symptoms of depression can also set in when you’re always around many personality types and trying to attempt to keep up with the needs of those people.
Long term effects could be a bit more severe. The desire to try and please everyone can cause quite a bit of extra stress that is just unnecessary. You can become overexposed to cortisol as well as some other stress hormones that can disrupt most of your body’s processes. If this happens, you will have an increased risk of heart disease and digestive problems.
Social networks can just cause problems
Although many don’t want to admit how involved they are with social media, they are. Unfortunately, it’s the way we keep up with what everyone is doing. Can you remember the last time you went to dinner and didn’t check into the restaurant before even sitting at the table? Or do you remember the last time you ate your food before snapping a photo of it and posting it on Instagram?
Social media can become far more important and complicated than it needs to be. Instead of focusing on letting everyone know what you’re doing when you’re doing it, take the time to fully enjoy the moment you’re in when you are in it.
If you’re going out to eat, leave your phone in the car. This will allow you to fully engage in conversation with who you’re at dinner with while also allowing you enjoy the time spent at the restaurant. The next time you feel yourself pulling out your phone to post something on social media, ask yourself if there’s really a reason to post what you’re doing in your personal life. You will be surprised at how much happier you’ll be when you keep many aspects of your life private.
Keep track of your social activities
It’s important to keep track of your social commitments so you can be aware of when you’re about to tire yourself out. It’s equally as important to realize the drastic difference between a friend and an acquaintance. You, of course, will want to spend more time with your friends because they will provide you with the most support. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend time with those you do not consider “friends” but rather not spend time with them frequently.
Everyone is different. It’s strongly encouraged to sit down and decide for yourself what your own personal social needs are. Truly analyze your relationships with people so that you are able to see who is a friend and who is an acquaintance.
In closing, please remember that you are not defined by the number of likes and comments you receive on social media. You are who you surround yourself with, and you want those people to be a genuine and sincere group. How many you consider a friend? That is for you to decide.
Featured photo credit: www.shuttershock.com via shutterstock.com