Today teens are faced with blurred lines between real and fake self-expression. It is difficult for them to take the beginning steps to consider self-knowledge, truthfulness, and other building blocks as they move to personal growth. As they function with greater genuineness, they become more aware of the many aspects of themselves.
It is difficult for teens to think about themselves first, rather than how they appear to other people. Having grown up with social media, this generation will not have the security of knowing whether they developed as they otherwise may have.
This is a culture where certainty about what is real and what is not has been shattered on many fronts–social media is making its own impact towards distortion. Learning by social comparison is an established method of human growth, and it’s normally persistent in adolescence. However, now with social media and demanded performance, it is more of a weapon with possible mass destruction. Viewers may assume that a person’s postings are reflections of their real life—-even when you doubt that they are true. This creates self-doubt and questioning of “am I measuring up to the others” and fears of being left out.
There is a vast web of judging. The distortions are public and permanent and open for assessment by others. The “likes” are counted and used as assurances of significance. Most people want to be accepted and developing a sense of self in that context can be destructive. Developing a sense of self in that context lacks spending time thinking about what’s important to you—instead, you are thinking about what other people value. This typically leads to feelings of insecurity or failure or dismissal. It begins to shrink your self-confidence bit by bit.
Then you begin to loathe yourself for caring about it at all.
Directing your identity growth requires time away from social media. It takes some solitude to get to know how to be yourself. Some alone time allows you to think about what is important to you. It gives you a zone that is free of judgment. It produces self-awareness and personal growth. It allows you to be able to choose the people that you are comfortable with and that will help with your continued growth. These are relationships that provide true social support and validation and allow for healthy experimentation without judgment. This is true support versus judgment by other people’s exaggerations.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to help in learning to validate and appreciate self. It is important to learn the skills of how to direct your thoughts and move forward with a physical action to avoid being trapped in the whirlwind of being judged by others.
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