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The Toxic Dangers of Social Media & 19 Signs and Ways It Makes You Insecure

We all think that social media is the best thing ever, but it also has hidden dangers. Find out what they are in this feature.

dangers of social media toxic

You might roll your eyes at the idea that there are dangers of social media. It’s just an online profile, right? Well, there are actually a lot of reasons to be cautious about social media. And – believe it or not – most of these concerns have nothing to do with privacy.

You’ve probably heard all about why you need to protect your privacy online, but has anyone else told you about protecting your self-esteem? If you’re like most of us, then probably not. You might not be aware of it, but your social media addiction is destroying your self-esteem with every minute.

Isn’t it ironic how we have a positive platform to post our accomplishments and highlights, that can also destroy what little confidence we have left? So, if you don’t know what the dangers of social media are, you’ll find out in this feature. [Read: Social media addiction: The 16 alarming symptoms & how to break out]

The growth of social media

The internet has changed our lives. Now you can talk to someone on the other side of the world with just a click of a button. Buying items from far away and having them swiftly shipped to your door is just as easy.

Social media was originally made to keep us connected, no matter where in the world we are. Scientists have even found that every single person who has social media worldwide can be connected to one another through mutual “friends” or “followers.”

With technological innovations left and right, social media is proof that we now live in a digital era. Now, complete strangers can know exactly what you’re doing and when.

Even if someone barely knows you, they can get a sense of who you are by just looking at your social media profile. Social media can be a blessing, but it can also be a curse. [Read: Social media and relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly]

Social media: Toxic or not?

Look, social media is great, especially when you think of how it makes it convenient to connect with others *even strangers*. But for that same reason, it can be toxic, especially for your mental health.

Social media can destroy your self-esteem and confidence. How, you may ask?

Let’s take Instagram, for instance; there’s an extreme and unrealistic need to be perfect on Instagram. Every photo posted is carefully engineered with angles, posing, lighting, filters, and more to look as perfect as possible.

You begin to think – why don’t I ever look that perfect, or why can’t I have a body like theirs? And that’s where the dangers of social media begin.

This is just one of the many risks of social media. If you’re not careful or aware of these risks, it’s easy to fall for the facade. [Read: 8 annoying social media users that make you wanna scream]

The dangers of social media and your self-esteem

Now you know that privacy isn’t the only thing you have to worry about when it comes to social media.

Your self-esteem is crucial to your well being, and someone suffering from a lack of self-esteem may have the dangers of social media to blame. Here’s how social media can harm your self-esteem. [Read: Steps to see yourself in a better light if you have low self-worth]

1. You only see the best of everyone else

People don’t put the hard stuff online; they only put the very best of everything in their lives. So when we hop online and look at our social media, all we see is everyone being extremely successful.

The most common danger of social media is that nobody ever posts their dark, difficult or even ordinary moments – they just post the flawless and perfect ones.

It’s easy to feel insecure when someone posts their ideal photo. But you don’t realize it took them a hundred shots to capture it. Social media is a facade. Try to remember this before comparing yourself.

2. You compare your life to others

We see everything people put online and automatically think about how our lives aren’t as great. Our lives aren’t that successful. This makes us feel horrible about ourselves; we sit and compare ourselves with what we see online. But it’s not accurate.

This doesn’t just happen with perfect photos, but posts too. Engagements, promotions, kids? You can’t rely on everything you see online, and comparing yourself with them isn’t a valid comparison.

You never know what someone is dealing with behind doors. After all, it’s easy to fake your “perfect life” on Instagram, right? [Read: Stop comparing yourself and other steps to quit being jealous]

3. You aren’t fully yourself online

Anyone who can’t express who they really are ends up feeling like there’s something missing – that thing is themselves. When you hop on social media, you’re holding your true self back. You don’t show everything that makes you different and unique.

You try to conform to trends and norms, and end up feeling like less of a person. It’s easy to hop on the bandwagon and pretend to be someone you’re not, all for the sake of views and likes. You want to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance online, and that’s just part of the problem.

One of the dangers of social media is that it’s easy to erase your entire personality and character. It’s all a facade, remember? [Read: How to describe yourself online: the 30 best and worst words]

4. You feel the need to hide your struggles

Facing different challenges in our lives is what makes us human. But one of the dangers of social media is that you can’t show when you’re struggling. Keeping all of your problems inside only makes you feel worse about your situation.

Like we said, nobody ever posts their sad or dark moments. Nobody ever shows their vulnerability or struggles online.

So, one of the dangers of social media is that you’re constantly comparing your dark moments to someone’s perfect day, and that alone will destroy your confidence. It’s just not a valid comparison. [Read: Why do I hate myself so much? Self-hate and what you can do about it]

5. Ads can hurt you too

We’re not good at recognizing that ads are hurting us. We see great-looking people dressed in impeccable clothing, and we just immediately compare ourselves – even when we know we’re doing it.

Since social media tends to have a LOT of ads, this happens the most when we’re just browsing through our feeds. You might think ads are completely harmless, but they’re not. Especially when they target your exact insecurities and flaws. You could be just innocently scrolling through your feed, and then voila! You feel like utter sh*t.

6. Fake friends

How many people do you only communicate with via Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat? Another one of the dangers of social media is that you won’t really build genuine friendships. Many people only act like your friend online, but won’t be there when you have a problem.

This can make you feel less secure in yourself. Just like it’s easy to make friends online, it’s just as easy to lose them.

It’s harder to define the line between your real and fake friends because let’s admit it, it’s generally easy to like photos and comment. But what’s harder is being there through the bad times. That’s real friendship. [Read: How to spot a fake friend: 13 signs they can fake but can’t hide]

7. Your need for attention is not being met

Social media is all about attention. You put yourself out there and hope to get that like or share. The problem is, if you don’t get those things, you feel like less of a person. And that hurts your confidence immensely.

You know exactly what we’re talking about if you’ve ever deleted a post when it didn’t get enough reactions or comments. Social media is a platform to get attention so if you don’t get the attention you want, it can trigger all your insecurities and flaws about yourself.

Why do you think all attention-seeking individuals thrive on social media? [Read: 16 signs you’re an attention whore]

8. It keeps you away from people in real life

Humans need to socialize. We thrive while engaging with others – even if you’re an introvert. But if you’re spending all your time on social media and using it in place of an active social life, it’ll make you feel worse about yourself.

The most ironic thing about the dangers of social media is that while it was made to connect, we couldn’t be further away from the people we love. If you’re not careful, it will create a wall in your existing relationships and friendships. So you see, even in socialization, social media has its downsides.

9. Craving validation

Have you ever experienced a rush of happiness after posting a picture on Instagram or Facebook only to have a flurry of likes or comments arrive immediately? It’s natural to feel ecstatic when you earn likes and comments on your postings, but this can lead to the dangers of social media. Self-esteem might be boosted as a result of this.

We must, however, be aware of how this may begin to influence our self-esteem. Likes and comments are an indication of social proof. ‘Like’ In general, the more likes a post receives, the happier we are. When this occurs, we emphasize other people’s views above our own.

When you let others judge your self-worth, you will quickly lose your self-confidence and doubt your abilities. It’s essential to keep in mind that your point of view is much more important than anybody else’s. [Read: What makes someone an attention seeker & how to read these traits]

10. Face-to-face interactions are no longer the norm

Posting and updating social networking sites often may help you feel connected to others digitally. Online communication is not the same as face-to-face interaction.

Online presence and tone cannot be replicated. Only eye contact creates genuine relationships and ties. Social skills crucial for life success are lost when chances to interact face-to-face are lost. Make more memories instead of hiding behind a screen.

Signs social media is hurting your self-esteem

If you’re lacking confidence, that doesn’t mean the dangers of social media are the reason for it. However, if you’re feeling down on yourself lately, these are some signs that social media may be the cause.

1. You regret going online

If you end up surfing your social media feed only to regret it, then you could be affected negatively by what’s online. Something that is a huge indicator that your self-esteem is being impacted by social media is how you feel after you get on it.

The minute you go online, you instantly regret it. But what’s worse is even if social media makes you feel like absolute crap, you can’t stay off. After all, it’s easy to get addicted and hooked to it – similar to a drug. [Read: Social media and relationships: The good, the bad, & the ugly]

2. You feel like your life is boring and you’re missing something

Everyone feels like their life is a little boring from time to time. But if you feel like this often and you find that you keep bringing up other people’s adventures as you’ve seen them online, the dangers of social media are affecting you. FOMO is getting to you, now more than ever.

You always feel like you should be getting on a plane, getting that promotion, being in a relationship, or something grand. You always feel like something’s missing in your life, even if you’re really not. This is all because of the influence of social media.

By giving you the perception that others are having more fun or enjoying better lives than you, Facebook and Instagram can amplify FOMO. Your anxiety will be boosted by the perception that you’re missing out on certain things, which can then drive you back online for validation.  [Read: What is FOMO? How to read the signs & overcome the stress it causes

3. You’ve stopped going out and being with real people

Has your life basically moved to social media? If so, then you’re deeply affected by it negatively. You should never stop going out and having fun because others are making you think your life isn’t great. If this is you, you didn’t just suddenly discover that you’re an introvert.

This is just because the dangers of social media have been getting to you. You don’t know how to socialize anymore, or your insecurities have gotten to you that it’s robbed you of having an actual life. [Read: 30 best and worst words to describe yourself online]

4. You don’t feel like you have any friends

How ironic is it that we live in the age of social media, yet so many of us feel alone? How close are you with your friends? If you feel like you can’t really look at a friend and say they’re real, your social media may be affecting your self-esteem.

You have friends you talk to, but none of them are people you can actually count on in a jam. The truth is that the online “friends” who like our pictures aren’t the type of people we can build strong friendships with.

This can hurt your self-esteem; it makes you feel like you’re someone not worth building a friendship with, even if that’s far from the truth. [Read: How to make friends outside of your social media network]

5. You seek attention online

This is probably the most common danger of social media. If you’re craving attention and only get it online, that’s a huge problem. Online platforms shouldn’t be validating you as a person. If you need likes to feel loved, your self-esteem could be compromised.

This could work against you, especially since the attention you get from social media is often short-lived. Most importantly, the attention you earn online isn’t from the people that really know you. So it’s all superficial. [Read: 15 things you shouldn’t do on instagram when you have a girlfriend]

6. Inadequacy about your appearance

Even if you realize that photographs on social media are edited, they might still make you feel uneasy about your appearance. The dangers of social media can start with seeing a beautiful face and perfect body online. We know it’s enhanced or edited, but still, we feel envious.

We also know that people never share unflattering photos. That doesn’t stop you from feeling envious and dissatisfied when you go through a friend’s photoshopped vacation images or hear about their fantastic new job advancement. This is a clear sign social media is affecting your self-image.

7. Depression and anxiety strike often

Face-to-face interaction is essential for the mental well-being of humans. The power of direct eye contact with a friend or loved one is unmatched when relieving stress and elevating mood.

Anxiety and sadness are more likely to develop or worsen if you place a high value on social media communication over face-to-face interaction.

8. You fear cyberbullies

Social media is the source of harassment – and even abuse – for a significant percentage of teenagers. However, a large number of adults suffer too. Social media sites can be a breeding ground for rumors, hoaxes, and abuse that can have a long-lasting effect on people’s mental well-being. [Read: How to deal with haters: get rid of the negativity & keep your zen]

9. You’re becoming self-absorbed

Sharing numerous selfies and all of your deepest thoughts on social media may lead to an unhealthy sense of self-centeredness. It can also disconnect you from real-life relationships with your friends and family.

There are lots of dangers of social media nowadays. Don’t let it destroy your life, or your relationship with your family and friends. Stop pressuring yourself; real life is what matters.

[Read: Signs you have low self-esteem and ways to increase it]

So, what are the dangers of social media?

It all comes down to this – social media is one big facade, and you can’t trust anything online. Of course, there are still advantages to social media. But as long as you use it in moderation and with the newfound knowledge that you can’t compare yourself with others, then you’re good.

There are many dangers of social media: it can sabotage your self-esteem and crush your confidence. So, you need to be wary of these dangers to protect your overall sanity and well-being. 

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...