What do we want? Approval! When do we want it? Now!

In a world where we constantly criticize ourselves and one another for our addiction to social media, the study performed by Church and Thambusamy only reaffirms the said connection to OSNs (Online Social Networks). A study with mostly female participants under the age of thirty, it supports the notion our desire to compete against friends and strangers alike on these online platforms for the prize of perceived socioeconomic, and subsequently status, superiority.  

The authors bring the social impact theory, which states that when one receives the impression that an activity they are performing is being judged by those around them, they are more likely to feel an increase in the competitive nature to succeed or perform at a higher level. 

In order to ‘win’ this game of life, a separation between reality and their online persona must occur. The authors call this an intention to misrepresent in order to reach the competitive social norms that they and those around them have set for themselves. By ‘those around them’, they do not only mean those in their inner circles at work or neighbourhoods, but others around the globe. Due to OSNs, the community to which we now compare ourselves to and compete against has grown increasingly larger, which I would argue has in a way created this huge jump in competition, misrepresentation, and refusal to be honest about our identities. @paulkur brings up cognitive psychology, and the idea that human behaviour is greatly influenced by the environment in which they exist. They also linked users fears to give out information about themselves to a fear of a decline in the hedonic benefits they would receive. 

Every like, comment, and post is overanalyzed and approved before it is sent off to go through the same process by tens, hundreds, if not thousands of their friends and followers. We no longer simply have to seek out the approval of our family and small town communities, but that of what many see is to be the entire world. If your profile is on public on Facebook, everyone with access to a search engine can take a look into what your life has to offer them. It’s a scary though, but this is our reality. We have exposed ourselves to receive not only love, but much hate and criticism from those who have never even met us before. 

@Charles M. Bate concluded in his commentary on this piece that there needs to be a discussion on the mental health repercussions that the use of social media in this way will have on how we see ourselves and our desire for competition. There are hundreds of thousands of users online that use apps such as Face Tune and Photoshop to alter their appearances, which increases the level of competition to level that cannot be naturally reached. Although not limited to women, their edited photos are much more commonly seen on social media as ‘face and body goals’ to strive for, and those edited faces and bodies are on every magazine cover and ad women of all ages are exposed to. In a study done by Laird and Wilcox in 2000, they found that when women were exposed to media depictions of slender models produced lower self-esteem and satisfaction about their own bodies and can produce body-focused anxiety. 

We spend an incredible amount of time on our social media presence, and not enough on the presence we have in the 3D world. 

Works Cited other than the original study:

Laird, J., & Wilcox, K. (2000, June). The Impact of Media Images of Super-Slender Women on Women’s Self-Esteem: Identification, Social Comparison, and Self-Perception. Journal of Research in Personality,34(2), 278, 286. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009265669992281X.

Photo link:

#WRDS150 #14M #SocialMedia #OSN #Church #Thambusamy


  1. I honestly really enjoyed your article analysis as well as opinions. Your writing is clear and has a strong voice from the beginning to the end. One point in particular that was intriguing was that of “Every like, comment, and post is overanalyzed and approved before it is sent off to go through the same process by tens, hundreds, if not thousands of their friends and followers”. This statement really speaks of the impact of ones actions even if its through something as simple as posting a picture on a social media platform. Compared to years ago when Instagram e.g just had launched, no one thought so critically of their pages content, whereas nowadays it seems staged and almost perfectly thought out in order to portray a certain image


  2. Hello, this was a very thought-provoking read.
    Yes I definitely feel that spending too much time cultivating an online persona can create and widen the rift between reality and ideal, and this certainly can cause us to overanalyze every single comment and post that we send out to check whether it matches with the ideal image that we created. I feel like this can lead to things like self-hate because it causes us to magnify the flaws that we see in ourselves in reality. For example, whenever we photoshop ourselves, trying to get rid of our flaws can make us hyper aware of all of those defects that we have.
    Perhaps spending more time in reality can help with this, as engaging in reality kind of forces us to be spontaneous with our behavior, giving us much less time to match everything with our ideal image.


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