How long has it been since you checked your Facebook page or Twitter account? If you’re like most people, you use social media many times throughout the day.

But while you may think social media is fun, studies have suggested that it can take a toll on our emotions. One such study by researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the effects of Facebook on mental health. They discovered that regular use could lead to symptoms of depression if the site triggered feelings of envy in the user.

Professor Margaret Duffy, a co-author of the research, said about the findings, “If it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect.”

Other studies have revealed that most people tend to edit photos and only show the ones that make their lives seem more attractive to others.

It is this constant measuring of ourselves against others that causes unimaginable amounts of grief. I see it on an almost-daily basis. Decent people with much to offer feeling unworthy of happiness because they feel inferior to others. They walk into my office with what appears to be the weight of the world on their shoulders.

I have found much of this weight stems from not feeling as “good, smart, pretty, wealthy, or funny” as others.

If you are now wondering whether maybe your happiness has taken a hit from social media use, here are 3 signs it has:

1.  You Need Positive Feedback to Feel Good

Let’s face it, we all love feeling appreciated. It feels good to get that positive feedback when you post a photo or event from your life. But if you find you only have good days on the days you are getting that positive feedback online, you may be depending on social media too much.

2.  You’re an Instant Gratification Addict

We have become a society of people who seek out instant gratification. While it’s okay to want instant oats and instant movie streaming, having a need to instantly feel worthy and good through social media is very harmful.

If the promise of instant gratification is driving your desire to post or share bits of your life, you may have become too dependent.

3.  You’re Reliving the Popularity Contests All Over Again

I find many of my adult clients care just as much about how many Facebook friends and likes they get as my teenage clients do. It’s as if the adults are reliving the high school popularity contests all over again. At the end of the day, are all of those Facebook friends reallyyour friend?

True happiness is having authentic connections with the loved ones in your life. If you’re paying too much attention to how many online friends you have and not enough on whether or not your face-to-face relationships are healthy, you may have a problem.

The next time you find yourself on your social media sites feeling jealous, envious, or somehow less than the people on those pages, remember that people tend to present very biased accounts of their lives. They, like you, want to measure up to the rest of the world.

Know that every human being is essentially struggling to feel worthy of being alive. It’s something we all seem to have in common. Instead of trying to be better than each other, let’s all instead try to have more compassion for each other.

If you or someone you know is having a hard time with self-worth issues and you’d like to speak to someone, please reach out to our office. We’d love to discuss how we may be able to help.

Priscilla Hurd, LPC, M.Ed.

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