Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

From the Trenches: 11th grade girl on Facebook, self-esteem, and being rated

In this study (Study: Facebook helps your self-esteem – CNN.com), it was found that people tended to rate their self-esteem as higher immediately after getting off of Facebook. The researchers think this is likely due to the highly edited and usually positive version of the self that is presented on Facebook. The majority of people tend to use Facebook to share witty comments or positive developments, rather than to talk about the bad things going on in their lives.

Reading this study made me think of the recent “rating” game that many young people have been playing on Facebook. On their walls, someone would say “like this and I’ll rate you,” then each person who liked that status would be rated on a scale of attractiveness by the rater. I’m pretty sure that those young people who engaged in this game ended up feeling worse about themselves if the raters consistently gave them low attractiveness scores. One of my teen-aged readers, a junior in high school, wrote to me about this phenomenon. This is what she had to say about it:

“I came home after school one day and went through the usually routine of getting on Facebook making sure nothing had rocked my social world since that morning when I checked it. That afternoon I came across some statuses in my news feed that said “like my status and I’ll rate you.” I kept scrolling down and saw a few more of the same statuses. I was troubled at the sense, or lack there of, some people had about what they were doing.

In this scenario, we have the “Rated” and the “Rater”. The “Rater” probably at some point in life has been classified a certain way in which they feel superior to a group of kids , or in some cases the opposite, they feel weak in the social realm so to gain power by labeling someone. The “Raters” are fed emotionally by the “Rated”. It’s a vicious Rating cycle. Now that the “Raters” have established where they stand the next step in the cycle is for the “Rated”, who are desperate for acceptance to conform under the power of the “Rater”. Both being fed by one another. They want so deeply to know where they stand in the eyes of their peers. This is only a worldly prescription for low self-esteem and the obsessive nature of wanting to be accepted. This whole cycle feeds the lies of the world that we can only ever be worth something through other people. You know what I say? BULL.

We all have fallen into one of these two categories in life at some point. Its only human nature, and with the lies of the world bombarding our brains it only makes it harder to see the truth. We have got to see and share that we can not go through life seeking the approval of this world. Not only will you go through life feeling empty but you will be miserable.”

I think this reader is right. Self-esteem that is based on the perceptions of others concerning your attractiveness is shallow, temporary, and puts how you feel about yourself within the power of someone else. Having self-esteem that is rooted in a realistic sense of who you are as a person is so much healthier.

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