Turn on the computer, sign on to Facebook and slip on a pair of rose-colored glasses. Your wall is strategically littered with clever status updates and any unflattering photos can simply be untagged. It’s hard to face ourselves in the mirror everyday with the realities of life all too apparent. It’s incredibly easy to escape into a socially-ideal world, where we put out our best selves for others to see, ignoring that the rest still exists.
The concept that social networking is detrimental to our existence, possibly even addictive, is widespread in the psyche community. Some worry that technology has not only infiltrated our lives, but that it’s taking the place of person to person interaction. There’s a legitimate concern that we’ve created a playing field for deniability and avoidance of real life. However, new research shows that a few minutes with your Facebook self (and all 300 plus friends that you have) may provide a much-needed confidence boost for students.
A study was conducted at Cornell University, which observed a group of 63 students. Each student was placed at a computer which either showed their Facebook profile, a blank screen, or a mirror. After three minutes, all 63 students were given a questionnaire, designed to measure their self esteem. The subjects who were given the opportunity to browse their Facebook profile exhibited higher levels of confidence. Furthermore, the highest levels of self esteem were seen in students who made some sort of update to their profile.
I would like to think that most people on the internet don’t fabricate themselves completely. I believe most legitimately convey a realistic image of themselves and if the edges are softened bit, so be it. As associate professor Jeffrey Hancock puts it, “Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves… We’re not saying that it’s a deceptive version of self, but it’s a positive one.” Enjoy the confidence boost but don’t let it go to your head. Nothing replaces some good old fashioned, face-to-face socialization.