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Once I became overly aware of the negative impacts of social media, having lived through them myself, I started noticing patterns in others everywhere.

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Inspired by a friend, I recently deleted my Instagram account, and have been seriously debating removing Facebook too. Funnily enough, when I found myself doing something cool, I automatically reached for my phone to take a picture.

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I did not have Instagram anymore, so I posted it on my WeChat moments. The one singular aspect that fascinates me the most, is our NEED to post online. My questions are: What is it that propels us to document our lives and why do we feel we absolutely need to post the things we do on social media? How does this relate to the image we seek to maintain online, and our sense of self-worth offline?

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I believe that first and fore-mostly, our behavior online all goes back to our sense of worth offline. It also relates to our psychological state, most namely whether we have low self-esteem and other certain tendencies such as narcissism, anxiety and depression, which therefore translates in a need for admiration, for example, if leaning towards narcissism. People tend towards presenting a socially desirable, positive self-view to others when online. In turn, this gives individuals an increase in self-esteem, but a decrease in self-control.

It all ties in with the idea of keeping up appearances, and painting a picture to the audience that compose of our friends lists and beyond. Individuals can choose information that they post, and keeping up a certain online identity increases self-esteem, but can mask our true personas. For the narcissist, this feeds into the need to be admired and the more reception a post receives, the more is fed into this type of behavior.

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For the anxious, online interactions can translate into real-life interaction, and feed into the anxious feeling of whether people like them or not, corresponding with what kind of reception online posts receive. These are but a few examples. However, sourcing our self-esteem and self-worth from social media is far from sustainable. I want to argue, that these superficial means can do more harm than good.

Not only does this make us more malleable to the number of likes and comments we receive, it can also cause psychological addiction, which can go as far as degrading the white matter found in our brains, and works in the same way as drug addiction at its very worst. At the very base, one should not turn to social media to boost self-esteem since it signifies a reliance on externalities to achieve a sense of heightened feelings of worth, rather than looking inwardly.

Altered Selves by Christopher Hawke

When we post something we deem as post-worthy, yet hide the more negative parts of our lives, unconsciously we also attach shame to those things we sweep under the rug from others to see. Hear fiddle music by Liz Carroll, playing the first of a two-piece set called Castle Kelly.

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