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Facebook: Not Just a Social Media Site

May 14, 2012

Have you ever noticed how you feel after visiting the social networking site Facebook? Do you feel better about your appearance after viewing your Profile Pictures album? Are you sad when you see other’s posting updates about their fun Friday nights? When someone compliments or criticizes your profile picture, does it make you feel good or bad about yourself? Facebook usage has been proven to have psychological advantages and disadvantages for a person’s self-esteem. What was once created to connect people

from different walks of life, now influences how people feel about themselves. Facebook allows its’ users to share status updates, photos, and contact information easily with their “friends”, unlike other forms of communication. With more than 800 million users, it is one of the most popular and influential forms of social media. By using social networking sites, individuals are at risk of being exposed to stimuli that can increase or decrease their self-esteem.

A group of students was surveyed to see whether answers supported previous research on this topic. It appears that the majority has high self esteem, which may caused by Facebook. More elaborate research would need to be performed to see if Facebook, rather than other factors, causes high self-esteem. However, the free response question gave the greatest insight on participants’ feelings regarding Facebook and self-esteem. When asked, “Do you think Facebook has affected your self-esteem in any way? If, so how?”, twenty participants said no, nine said it has increased their self-esteem, and eleven said it has decreased their self-esteem. In the case of increasing self-esteem, one person states that getting friend requests or invited to a Facebook event makes them feel better about themselves. Another respondent states that having people positively comment on their activities boosts their self-esteem. In the case of decreasing self-esteem, one participant states that seeing other people invited to events that he or she wasn’t, takes a toll on his or her self-esteem. Also, another says,

Yes, it has decreased because I am constantly seeing pictures of girls my age who are trying to make themselves look skinnier, prettier, etc. and I know that since I don’t post scandalous pictures myself, they are looked at more and therefore perceived as “hotter” by others

However, the majority state that Facebook has had no effect on their-self-esteem so it is difficult to conclude whether this survey provides enough concrete evidence to determine if their is a trend towards Facebook decreasing or increasing self-esteem, even with the comments in support of both sides.

Facebook has been proven to both decrease and increase self-esteem, depending on how it is used.  However, it is difficult to conclude which is the stronger affect. For example, not everyone using Facebook is being cyberbullied, which is one of the ways to decrease self-esteem. The effects on self-esteem from this form of bullying can only be applied to those being harassed. In the same sense, if someone views his or her profile multiple times a day, it does not mean that his or her self-esteem definitely will increase. It really depends on a person’s self prior to creating a Facebook account. If a person joins the social networking site with an already low self-esteem, then they most likely will be affected negatively. The same effect would be for the opposite. How this popular website affects a user depends entirely on this person’s self before Facebook became a part of their life. It may eventually play a part in crafting the type of self-esteem after years of use, but further research would need to be completed to determine this. Rather than say that Facebook increases or decreases self-esteem, it is more sensible to say Facebook is related to self-esteem.

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