Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

In recent years, a discourse of self-esteem, love towards oneself and self-improvement has emerged forcefully, which comes hand in hand with the new mental health awareness. This has contributed to the visualization of the problem, and people have become more interested in their psychological well-being, either by going to therapy or carrying out introspection processes with the help of self-esteem books. However, when we talk about what is seen on the networks, how much of this is genuine and how much is it performative? In the world of the internet it is difficult to decipher it, especially when this is exactly the medium that has impacted the perception we have of ourselves, but beyond whether it is genuine or not, does it have a positive impact on the subject it is trying to address? Contrary to what one might believe, these trends have led to what is known as “toxic positivity”. In other words, contrary to what is wanted, instead of providing people with a space for understanding and motivation, it puts pressure on people with problems such as anxiety or depression, who do not feel capable of leading a lifestyle “positive and productive”

Well-being or productivity?

Social media posts dealing with stability and wellness tend to focus on the daily routines of people who seem completely stable, maintain excellent physical condition, a stable family, financial freedom, and also have time to practice forms of self-care such as yoga or meditation. . As can be seen, there is a equating well-being with productivity, one of a quite specific type, which focuses on not only having an active routine, but also that it complies with the canons of what is considered successful and beautiful, downplaying the structural conditions that lead to personal problems, and turning all responsibility on the individual. The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a study in 2021 on the impact of the events that occurred in 2020 on people’s self-esteem, revealing an increase in self-esteem. negative self-perception in the population. Of course, this result derives from multiple causality, but for now we want to focus on the increase in the use of networks in the pandemic and how immersion in virtuality blurs self-perception with its three focal points: distortion, the creation of needs, and the paradox of virtual communities.

Distortion

Since the massive use and popularity of Snapchat, we live in the age of filters. Instagram, tiktok, editing apps and even apps that use artificial intelligence to modify facial features on the screen. In America, an increase in cases have been reported in which plastic surgeons are contacted by patients who want facial modifications that resemble their face to the one reflected on the screen with the use of filters, and even if it could seem dystopian, all this is only the consequence logic of a long self-image distortion process. Even if you don’t use filters, you are exposed to this distortion with overexposure to media such as videos and photographs of people who have homogenized their features either through surgery, editing, or both. The canons of beauty have always been private, but what differentiates this type of interaction with them, from that given in other times, is that the image we receive and even give of ourselves, goes through these literal and figurative distortion filters. .

Creation of needs

As can be seen in the previous point with the example of the case of surgeons, the bombardment of this type of content ends up generating needs that become hyper-consumerism. Far more makeup and skin care brands have emerged in the past two decades than all founded in the 20th century, not to mention the exploitation created by the growing fast fashion industry. Personal care is of course a necessity and must be met, but to what extent are your apps configured as a real need and not a created one. The aspiration to beauty is not a modern characteristic, and even so, the way in which the current consumption mechanisms are developed, present an alignment towards individuality every time.

Paradox of virtual communities

The ideal of networks was the connection and communication between people without spatial limitations. Little was it estimated that they would become the great big data market that it is today, in which its communicative function has been rather relegated. Of course, the formation of virtual communities is undeniable, their positive impact on the lives of millions and the facilities they provide for communication. However, being “connected at a distance” contains a paradox in itself, and that is that people have increasingly adopted virtual communication, this is not a substitute for real socialization. Thus, people find themselves before their virtual self, and the need for acceptance and recognition by individuals who belong to their own virtual communities, making them build a virtual self, a reality for social networks, a personality on the web, but without it being able to meet their needs as a social being. This triad of interconnected phenomena that lead to want-to-consume have wreaked havoc on an entire generation that has grown up completely immersed in digital media, leaving a dent in his personality and self-esteem. With this, we do not want to conclude with a negative impression towards networks and technology, but rather as an awareness of how much these problems that are directly affecting the mental health of millions have been relegated, who then must fight alone with their self-esteem problems, anxiety and even depression.

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