Advertising
Advertising

How Social Media Manipulates Our Views on Winners and Losers

How Social Media Manipulates Our Views on Winners and Losers

Social media undoubtedly has it’s perks. Free advertisement, an endless opportunity for networking, and keeping in touch with long lost friends. But there is an incredibly sinister aspect to constantly staying, “connected.” Social media has negatively altered the way we view ourselves as well as others, and it just keeps getting worse.

The illusion of “perfect lifestyles” make us resent our own lives.

Social media is no longer just about sharing your thoughts and actions among your peers. It’s become a form of self promotion. Establishing a brand, and sharing the lifestyle that you lead.

However fabricated and fraudulent that supposed lifestyle may be, many of these individuals who follow these social media gurus honestly believe that these people lead flawless, exciting lives. To a degree, those who have honed the lifestyle career sentiment seem to have it all figured out. They have achieved ultimate freedom; except that they’ve made their lifestyles into their career and therefore everything they do and say is for show, and none of it is truly authentic.

But despite this disillusioning truth, the abundance of social media superstars make the average person feel as if their lives are not fulfilling,[1] and they’re not good enough to acquire such a following.

Advertising

People are beginning to rate their self worth in terms of likes and follows, as if that actually validates how valuable and interesting they truly are.

We judge the value of other people based on their following.

Millenials especially put a very strong emphasis on the importance of a social media following,[2] and how they perceive their peers. I have actually heard individuals between the age of 18-24 say, “They have to have at least ten-thousand followers before I’d even consider dating them.” And mean it.

I have to wonder, are they even slightly aware that they are lusting after a false ideal? With the abundance of picture altering apps, allowing the most average of individuals to airbrush their mediocre pictures to a stunning, flawless perception of themselves?

On social media, people have the freedom to only show people only what they want them to see. Many of these “perfect” posts require lots of careful planning, timing, and coordination. People spend hours trying to take that perfect picture, to give it that effortless image that so many strive for. Studies have shown that many of these individuals leading “perfect” lifestyles are actually incredibly stressed and suffer from anxiety and depression.

Advertising

Many online business entrepreneurs will tell you that in order to have a successful online following, you need to have a business plan. Having a strong social media following is anything but effortless. It takes a lot of work, planning, and countless hours of networking with people you will never meet nor will greet them by any other name than their social media identity.

FOMO: The Fear Of Missing Out

When many of us scroll through social media, we can’t help but feel a bit deflated while we view others hitting mile stones that we are still yet to hit. Even worse, for me anyway, we view people doing exciting and adventurous things while we struggle with envy, lurking from our average couch in our average home in an average place.

FOMO, the fear of missing out, is the negative sensation that we experience when we feel that someone is doing more or experiencing more than us, and we feel left out. By habitually plugging into social media, we are constantly reminding ourselves that there is more we could be doing with our lives, and makes us feel badly for not yet doing or achieving them.

Take the Power Away from Social Media

Although it seems like social media has a strong hold on just about everything these days, there are still those among us who manage to function without it, or with minimal contact.[3] Try these few tricks to weaken the hold that social media has on your life.

Advertising

Understand that it is all an illusion.

Realize just how much time and effort that goes into having a solid social media following. It’s like having a second job. It requires hours of time for planning and execution. Then, once the pictures are actually taken, consider the time taken to edit the pictures, finding the perfect filter and caption to match. And then the hashtags, oh the hashtags. Imagine how much could be achieved and how much happier the individual might be if they used that time to actually enjoy their surroundings and connect with the people who are actually around them.

Take a hiatus.

Smash that disable button, babe. Even if it’s just for a day. Take some time to disconnect and step away from the pressures and expectations of social media. There once was a time when you existed without it, and you can have that again. What is “that” exactly? It’s called freedom.

Challenge yourself, and plan for a reward in the end. Try to get a solid 3 days without social media. Delete the apps, do whatever you need to do so you don’t mindlessly start scrolling through without even realizing what you’re doing (it happens to us all). Treat yourself to a nice meal or something you normally don’t spoil yourself with. The more you start to disconnect, the more you realize how silly the social media culture truly is.

Find what empowers you.

You weren’t meant to live your life mindlessly staring at a screen. I’m sure you had interests once, ones that didn’t involve your phone or tablet. Reconnect with those things. Climb a tree. Read a book. Go for a walk. Take up knitting. Learn a dance routine. Do literally anything that doesn’t involve your phone.

Advertising

Developing a new skill will help to improve your self esteem, and will also help you to realize that you are meant to exist in the real world; and the best way to get the most out of life is to truly live it yourself.

Search for your peers.

Believe it or not, there are still people in existence (millenials no less!!) who do not have any social media accounts. They identified the toxicity attributed to constant connection and chose to reject it.

You don’t have to go completely cold turkey like these legends have, but learn from their values. I know it can be scary when most of your social development took place on a virtual platform, but you can learn to benefit from the art of conversation. There is no comparison to actually connecting with another individual, in contrast with sending an impersonal “like” or “poke” their way.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, writer, & plant-based food enthusiast.

How We Are Confusing Self-Love with Narcissism In This Generation How Traveling Can Drastically Improve Your Interpersonal Skills 10 Best Lumbar Support Cushions That All Desk Workers Need One Small Action Separates Success From Mediocrity. How Not To Turn Meaningful Discussions Into Arguments By Keeping This 1 Thing In Mind.

Trending in Psychology

1 How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits 2 How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing 3 How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy 4 The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected 5 Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 30, 2019

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

How the Stages of Change Model Helps You Change Your Habits

Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!

In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:

Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.

You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.

What is the Stages of Change Model?

Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago[1] and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.

Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.

Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:

Advertising

    The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.[2]

    The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.

    The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.

    The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:

    1. Precontemplation
    2. Contemplation
    3. Determination
    4. Action
    5. Maintenance
    6. Termination

    How are these stages relevant to changing habits?

    To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:[3]

      Let’s look at the six stages of change,[4] together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:

      Stage 1: Precontemplation

      At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.

      Advertising

      For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.

      Stage 2: Contemplation

      At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.

      You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.

      The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)[5]

      Stage 3: Preparation

      At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.

      Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.

      Stage 4: Action

      When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.

      Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.

      Advertising

      Stage 5: Maintenance

      After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.

      Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.

      Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.

      Stage 6: Termination

      Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.

      However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.

      How long does each stage take?

      You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.

      So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.

      The limitations of this model

      The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.

      Advertising

      Require the ability to set a realistic goal

      For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.

      If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.[6]

      Difficult to judge your progress

      The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case.[7] For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.

      Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.

      Conclusion

      The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.

      While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.

      Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Psych Central: Stages Of Change
      [2] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [3] Empowering Change: Stages of Change
      [4] Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)
      [5] Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior
      [6] The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model
      [7] Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique

      Read Next