Now I consider myself to be somewhat of an outsider as far as social media goes these days. Not having this phenomenon (social media) for the largest part of my formative years has had its perks. But I want to refrain from sounding like a grumpy old man yelling at teenagers in the park to keep it down, because he is feeding his pigeons. And I must admit that even I have dipped my toe in the waters that I want to explore for the remainder of my blog. What exactly am I talking about? I am talking about getting validation from social media attention.
According to the Association for Psychological Science, the same brain circuits that are activated by eating chocolate or winning the lottery, show equal amounts of activity when teenagers see a lot of likes on their own pictures on social media. And why exactly is this? Well there is a phenomenon, that various magazines have aptly dubbed ‘Generation Validation’. It basically means that we have grown accustomed to receiving praise on our online persona and therefore expect the same results offline. And these results might not always be present, which can affect basically anyone’s subconscious. Regardless of how confident of self-conscious a person is. And this can lead to serious problems according to the American Psychological Association, who found that self-esteem gathered from external sources can lead to more stress and/or anger.
Since I have been known to have a love/hate relationship with social media, this frustrates me more than it should. Perhaps it is because I recognize the feeling of getting that validation when your Facebook post reaches a certain number of ‘likes’ or when your ‘tweet’ gets more than 20 ‘retweets’. However, because this feeling of validation scares me so much, I refrain from posting all that much. This saves me a lot of frustration, and to my fellow students I would advise the same. Damn, now I sound like a grumpy old man after all.
Association for Pyschological Science. (2016, May 31). Social Media ‘Likes’ Impact Teens’ Brains and Behavior. Retrieved from Psychological Science: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/social-media-likes-impact-teens-brains-and-behavior.html#.WD50VPnhBhE
Daly, A. (2014, June 18). Generation Validation: Why Everyone Just Wants To Be Liked. Retrieved from Elle: http://www.elle.com/life-love/a14618/generation-validation/
Dittmann, M. (2002, December). Self-esteem that’s based on external sources has mental health consequences, study says. Retrieved from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec02/selfesteem.aspx