Social media can take a huge toll on our wellbeing, that's no secret. But a new study has revealed that being 'authentic' on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok and Twitter is better for our mental health.
From simple things like at home date nights (opens in new tab) and wholesome morning rituals (opens in new tab) to more extravagant activities like travelling to breathtaking natural wonders (opens in new tab) (hashtag blessed), many people - celebrities included - use social media to share idealised versions of their lives and exaggerate their quality of life and relationships. However, new research in the journal Nature Communications (opens in new tab), has suggested that our mental health would be much better off if we portrayed more authentic versions of ourselves and shared posts that reflect our lives more accurately instead.
The conclusion came after researchers at New York's Columbia Business School and Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management in Chicago analysed the data of 10,560 Facebook users, all of whom they had made complete life satisfaction and personality assessment surveys from 2007 to 2012.
They then compared each participant's results with predictions of their personalities based on their Facebook profiles to find out how much their profiles represented their actual personalities. Their research found that those who presented themselves on Facebook in a way that closely resembled how they actually viewed themselves in real life reported higher levels of life satisfaction, compared to those whose profiles didn't resemble how they saw themselves as closely.
Erica Bailey, a doctoral student in management at Columbia Business School and author of the study explained the results further, saying that the link between authenticity and wellbeing has been documented previous times in a number of scientific studies.
Speaking to CNN (opens in new tab), she said: "However, in the case of social media, the opposite direction is also highly likely, that is people who are more well-adjusted or happier are also probably more likely to post authentically."
She added: "Given that it's hard to avoid social media these days, we wanted to know are there ways that we can use these tools to be more or less helpful to us psychologically. One tension that users face is whether to present themselves in a way that's idealised or in a way that's authentic. Here we found that authentic social media use is associated with higher subjective well-being."
Well, there you have it. Being yourself is always the best option!
Sagal is a journalist, specialising in lifestyle, pop culture, fashion and beauty. She has written for a number of publications including Vogue, Glamour, Stylist, Evening Standard, Bustle, You Magazine, Dazed and Wonderland to name a few.
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