Social media is a platform that keeps growing every single day. It is a complex platform that is used by millions of people and at this point, it is hard to even imagine a life without social media. Social media is a platform where people get to connect with anyone from around the world with just a click. This is now a platform where people post about themselves or their businesses and connect with others they know personally and even strangers. Some people start new relations over the internet. It is a virtual reality that is becoming more of a fake reality as platforms like Instagram has a lot of ‘Influencers’ in the present who post unrealistic images that have now become the definition of beauty.
Self-esteem, on the other hand, is what you feel about yourself. This can be altered by many external factors as well as internal factors. This can also influence everything you do in your life. Self-esteem and self-liking are things that are important in every person’s life. This could motivate or demotivate a person. It is important to understand what could alter a person’s self-esteem especially if it is a part of your everyday life.
In the literature contradicting the uni-dimensional characteristics of self-esteem (Tafarodi & Swann, 2001), we see insights into a two-dimensional view of self-esteem. This literature is in aims to prove that self-esteem, in general, consists of two factors: namely self-competence and self-liking. They explore this hypothesis by using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) & multitrait-multimethod approach. The literature discusses how the Rosenberg Self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965) makes these two varied dimensions as two interdependent factors and not standalone dimensions. Therefore, they’ve used a revised version of a scale (Self-Liking/Self-Competence Scale-Revised Version (SLCS-R)) with the aim to understand the two dimension of self-competence. There are varied factors that could affect the self-esteem of a person, but through the analysis of the data received from the revised test that included items that focused on a single dimension rather than the generalised concept of self-esteem, the results prove the hypothesis that self-esteem consists of two varied dimensions: self-competence and self-liking. The results also bring in the possibility of another dimension of self-esteem which has not been explored in this study. This study was only conducted on a few students of the University of Toronto, therefore, the sample size isn’t sufficient enough to be generalized.
One of the earlier works of literature studying the different impacts and relations between social media and self-esteem in relation to social comparison. This study (Vogel et al., 2014) focused on the effects that social media platforms like Facebook have on the self-esteem of people. This study analysed the participants with respect to the amount of exposure to content on social media and the type of content they were exposed to. The results concluded that participants who used Facebook more had a lower sense of self-esteem in comparison to the subsidiary participants. In the second test that was conducted, the results showed that exposure to upward comparison diminished participants self-esteem more than the exposure to toward comparison. So this study focused on intensity and type. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale was used to administer the needful. Mainly noted limitation of this test would include the fact that the test was done in a short period where they were unable to administer the effect of different types of exposure with more than one item. The study was also administered on a small scale of participants, hence the diversity is lacking.
Another literature that focused on the effects of using Facebook on people’s self-esteem was done by (Jan et al., 2017). The paper manifestly aims at providing proof to explain the impact Facebook has on self-esteem. In this study, the hypothesis states that receding self-esteem can be associated with the use and exposure to social media platforms. Regression and correlation are used to study the relationship between the two variables. The experiment was administered on a few students studying in IoBM in Karachi. The results are conclusive of the fact that the relationship between the time spent on social media and diminishing self-esteem is correlated and has a negative relation. The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965) was used to administer the results for this test. This literature faces some concerning limitations. Due to time restraints, the sample scale was small and the participants were not supervised while they were filling in the questionnaire, therefore the credibility and truthfulness of the participants can only be assumed.
Supporting the finds of the previous pieces of literature, we explore another study based on Facebook. (Burrow & Rainone, 2017) delve into the world of likes and affirmation on the platform of Facebook. This study is a little dissimilar to the previous studies as it scrutinizes the impact of affirmation and its consequences. Results from three tests were taken into consideration to analyse and get to a conclusion Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Mini- IPIP, Life engagement Test). Another variable considered in this study is a higher sense of purpose in life or merely purposefulness. Results showed that the number of likes on selfies or self-portraits of the participants with a higher life purpose did not distress their self-esteem as much as it did with the other participants. Concerning the correlation analysed, there was a slight decline in self-esteem but it is not as evident as the other participants. Therefore, proving the hypothesis that likes received on social media on personal posts affects self-esteem. More likes mean more reaffirmation, which increases self-esteem while a low number of likes means a decline in self-esteem.
Further, a study that evaluates the effect of social media on self-esteem and paranoia in psychosis done by (Berry et al., 2018) reconnoitres a more clinical aspect of this. The first hypothesis suggests that the mere use of social media will result in low self-esteem and high paranoia. The second hypothesis discusses the effect of social media with context to what type of user the participant is. It suggests that passive users, meaning that the participant consumes content, would have a negative effect on them: low mood, self-esteem and high paranoia. Contrary to that, active users, insinuating participants who post and is active and vocal on social media. Five tests were done to find results associated with the hypotheses. The experiment was administered mainly on participants who were previously labelled with psychosis and participants who had already addressed concerns regarding social media, therefore this study cannot be generalised. Opposing the hypotheses, the analysis of the results from all the tests proves that social does not have a significant effect on the self-esteem of a person.
In conclusion, most of the previously discussed papers were done on a small scale of people and so cannot be generalized. Contrary to that, these studies were done in different parts of the world, so that gives us insight into different samples. Correspondingly, all the studies that focused on the effect of social media on self-esteem were only done in context to Facebook and in the present day, Instagram is a more prominent and is a bigger contributor of content that could alter self-esteem. Being a platform that is based mainly off of only pictures, the number of likes and other factors could influence and alter a person’s self-esteem more than it was learned with regards to Facebook. Hence, future studies need to focus on the limitations that have been understood from the prior discussions. The sample scale needs to be enhanced to a wider area including diverse people in order to compare and contrast with respect to cultural differences too. These studies could be centred on Instagram as the main social media platform. If the content viewed by the participant is to be altered, the participant should be exposed to more than one item. The positive and negative impacts of social media on self-esteem should be studied in more detail to understand the harm this platform does to people of all ages; to understand if there are ways this can be controlled or altered. As social media is a vast spread platform that keeps advancing every moment, future studies need to focus on a wider range of people with expectations to get a broader and clearer perspective of the impact of social media on self-esteem.