Handling social media pressure
With the rise of the internet and smartphones, social media has become increasingly accessible. This has changed the way that many people interact, or are expected to interact with others. As a result, many social pressures have either arisen within social media, or adapted to it. This phenomenon is known as social media pressure which, if unmanaged, can have a negative impact on one’s mental health.
What is social media pressure?
Social media pressure refers to when an individual feels pressure to adjust their personality, lifestyle or social media activity, to what they perceive will give them more acceptance or rewards. Rewards could include admiration, acceptance, increased interaction with peers, or likes, follows, shares and comments.
Many of these perceptions are based on unrealistic standards, as social media has a greater ability to present manufactured or exceptional content.
What does social media pressure look like?
You may be affected by social media pressure if you:
- Feel pressure to increase social media use
- Feel pressure to manufacture your content to what will be most liked, accepted and interacted with
- Feel pressure to think, act, look or speak like popular or highly rewarded individuals on social media
How can social media pressure affect mental health?
The desire to be admired or rewarded on social media is normal, however this may become problematic when it leads to unhealthy thoughts and behaviours.
For example, frequent consumption of unrealistic standards can lead one to feel inadequate in their self-presentation or lifestyle.
The pressure to always feel connected through social media can also lead to an individual feeling burnt out, or on the flip side, isolated from truly personal interactions.
New content and notifications have been found to increase chemicals such as dopamine. These chemicals activate the brain’s reward system, increasing feelings of pleasure, which can become addicting and lead to unhealthy social media use.
Reducing the risk of social media pressure
Ways to reduce the risk of social media pressure can include:
- Avoiding and unfollowing content that pressures you
- Reminding oneself that content on social media does not represent real life
- Limiting time spent on social media
- Disabling notifications of likes, follows, messages and comments, if possible
- Valuing self-admiration and self-acceptance above the admiration and acceptance of others