Updated: Mar 7
Confidence vs. The Age of Social Media:
We live in a world where visual representations of anything dictate their worth. This is a recipe for disaster when focusing on building your confidence.
Take for instance our beloved yet hated platform,Instagram. Everything about that app is rooted in value. Your follower count, your feed aesthetic, how you look, which filter is making you look like Beyonce on Monday morning, etc. Everything that is seen immediately gets a worth attached to it consciously or subconsciously. Add in the trolls and it’s a no brainer why your confidence may not be at it’s optimal level.
We have become addicted to social media and our smartphones which goes against our innate nature as humans. We weren’t meant to get a rush of dopamine whenever a selfie was appreciated.
When someone likes a picture, or you get noticed or whenever you achieve whatever goal you have on social media, there is an immediate release of this neurotransmitter which only makes us want to keep doing it because it’s an easy way to get that release.
For those that don’t know, dopamine is the feel good chemical that our bodies make which then is sent around through nerve cells.
It’s how we feel pleasure. We release dopamine when we are anticipating a “reward”. Think food, sex, satisfaction, good news, your crush telling you they like you, etc. Anything that makes you feel good and yummy is because of dopamine.
The issue is that we are a species that is dependent on relations, not digital engagements. We were never meant to have more online relations than interpersonal, physical relations, catch my drift?
We started as humans that denied mingling outside of their tribe and ended up as a species that makes connections through social media and puts our entire lives on show like reality TV…
How is this affecting our mental? Our we evolved enough to be handling all that comes with social media?
These questions sparked an interest in understanding how our brain has developed overtime in the realm of socialization, so this leads us to my next portion of this post…
Social Evolution and It’s Importance
This may seem like we’re getting off topic but I swear it’ll be a full circle moment soon. In order to gain more confidence in today’s environment, it’s important to understand how we evolved to this current space.
When we look back from Neanderthals (who lived 130,000 and 40,000 years ago) to the present day 21st century, the part of our brain that primarily conducts social interactions and communication has grown and evolved which in turn has allowed us to not only live longer but expand our need and desire to interact on such a degree in which we are at today.
We start with our prehistoric hunter-gatherers, Neanderthals, living in small isolated tribes. H. neanderthalensis’ developed a culture that included medicine, language (which looked very different from our own), and art. It is to be noted there is no evidence to give concrete fact that Neanderthals could in fact speak, but they developed tonal language, quite possibly whistling or screeching.
As stated on the most reliable source on the worldwide web, WIKIPEDIA, Neanderthals were most likely racist, fearful of anything new or different, and set in their ways. This is important to note because at that point in time, socializing outside of their group wasn’t intriguing. It was a threat.
When we compare Neanderthals to H. sapiens, or modern humans, there is a vast difference in social evolution. This includes the desire to be social, the ability to conduct and receive social behavior, interest in different cultures and walks of life (for almost most, not all), in addition to the development of language.
But, more importantly H.Sapiens’ ability anatomically to communicate evolved as well.
There is a misconception in brain size in comparison to Homo neanderthals and Homo sapiens. Due to Neanderthals living in colder climates, their brain size was actually larger than ours today, if not the same size depending geographically.
The differences in our brains are that certain areas were more enlarged or evolved than others. For instance, the part of the brain that is associated with vision and body control was larger, which makes sense since their bodies were larger and stalkier than ours and required more physical ability to travel and hunt.
Because their vision and physical control were greater than ours, it left less room for the part of the brain related to social complexity, higher levels of thinking and problem solving to be smaller. Which in turn kept their social circles to be small.
When we trace back to the differences in the lifestyle between H. neanderthals and H. sapiens, it’s all rooted in food and survival. For Neanderthals it would be safe to assume that confidence for them, if felt and understood like we do today, would have come from finding food and providing/contributing to their tribes.
Neanderthals were our hunter-gatherers. Early H. sapiens were our settlers….They started to farm and grow their food instead of needing to hunt it down and move around.
As they settled down, their tribes turned into villages, their villages turned into towns, and then cities, and so on and so forth. The ability to grow in population size was an easier feat, therefore allowing and needing social skills to develop further.
Studies have shown that H. sapiens have been able to outlive neanderthals because of social skill development and the ability to protect each other from environmental or circumstantial threats. More allies leads to a higher chance of surviving.
In addition, as language and interaction expanded, so did our tools to do so. Art, letters, telegraphs, telephones, pagers, internet, cell phones, so on and so forth which lands us here today. The 21st century with communication at our fingertips.
But, this large leap in socialization and communication might just be too much for us and might be doing more harm than good, especially where lack of confidence is concerned.
Is Social Media Too Much for our Brains?
What’s important to note is that any business that works in the realm of delivering communication (ie. phones, internet, apps, social media), are in a cycled rat-race of coming up with the next “thing” to produce more engaged and heightened interaction at a quicker response rate, which includes an increase in stimuli and the ability to knock your confidence.
It has been said by some who study this area, that our brains are not evolved enough to cope with the repercussions of social media. I one-hundred percent agree. The rate of depression caused by social media and declining confidence has been spoken on numerous times.
Our ability to invent is almost surpassing our ability to interact with those inventions, if that makes sense.
The dangers of social media and the brain can be obvious to most but let’s go over them together…
You spend more time comparing yourself to others leading to depression and anxiety.
You seek validation from others which results in the inability to be confident and know your own worth.
Social norms don’t exist online like they do in-person, creating social anxiety or the inability to properly socialize offline.
Heightened mental health issues
Hyper-vigilance: ever think you hear your phone ring or feel your phone vibrate? Your brain has been trained to be hyperaware to your phone and the interactions it brings you.
When you have more real life connections, you talk about yourself 30-40% of the time. When you are addicted to social media, you are talking about yourself 80%+ of the time (guilty).
It shows up in brain scans as an addiction equivalent to drugs and substances.
You are overwhelming the brain with information and stimulus at the same time.
Your ability to think independently is at risk.
You may develop changes to your appetite.
It can cause issues with focus and multitasking.
And the list goes on and on and on…
We started as a species that could not and would not socialize outside of our core group, to being a species that is connecting with people across the world, multiple times a day and instantly giving strangers the power of dictating our worth.
That is a gigantic leap in behavior.
How Confidence is Affected
As stated earlier, we are giving strangers the power to dictate our worth.
As women we are relying on Tik Tok challenges and thirst traps to make us feel desired and confident. For my men, they are having to come across as having it all, the money, the maturity, the emotional strength, the ambition, etc. to be seen as desirable and confident.
We are focused on how we are received by people who honestly probably don’t matter to us more than we are focused on how we genuinely feel about ourselves.
We are giving people who we don’t think twice about once we put the phone down, free access to us 24/7.
Social media can be an incredible tool, but there is a huge responsibility that needs to come along with it. Just like with drinking, just like with anything that has benefits and risks.
Our brain stops developing at age 25. We are giving kids smartphones with access to social media at age 10, sometimes earlier. That’s 15 years of brain development that is rooted in dependency on outside noise, which in turn causes internal conflict.
So, how do we build our confidence when we are living in a society built on breaking you down?
How to Build Your Confidence
Become very observant of how you spend your time. Are you spending time doing things that bring you attention and validation, or are you spending time working on yourself and bettering your relationship with yourself? Please let it always be the latter. Find balance between the two but always have the scales swaying more toward personal development.
Make a list of all the things you like/love about yourself. Yes we are going old school. Pen and paper, write that shit down.
Become aware of your thoughts and that annoying ass voice in your head who is more negative than Angelica from The Rugrats. When you catch that beezy saying something negative or criticizing, quickly say out loud “not today “insert name”“. Change the narrative immediately.
Learn something new. Something so very new you have to suck at it and be discouraged at first. Why? humbling yourself as a naive student and seeing progress in your commitment will show you how capable you are at doing anything you set your mind to.It doesn’t have to be learning how to build an Ikea desk because we all know that shit is intentionally impossible. It could be knitting a hat for all I care, just learn something new that you must be a fresh student in.
Set timers for social media and using your phone. We have got to do better. We have such little time on Earth and staring at our phones for longer than necessary is not allowing us to expand.Don’t get me wrong, you can find some incredible inspiration on social media, but let it just be that. Find your inspiration, connect in a healthy and balanced way, and then go do something amazing. Go find your true calling. Go find your life’s purpose! It’s not inside that phone… Unless your the next Steve Jobs or you life calling is trading Forex…No hate, just saying…
Clean your feed. Go through and stop following people who don’t bring value to your life. Stop following people who don’t deserve the greatest currency we have, TIME. Following 2,000 random people and 100 people you actually do know seems counterproductive, unless those 2,000 are GOATS. Detox your feed and clear it out.
Last but not least, if you’re not using social media as a marketing strategy for your outside endeavors, let it be what it is. A social tool, not an addiction. Let it help you connect and build relations, stop using it as a way to get validation that you’re a bad ass mutha. OKAY?!If you don’t already know how bad ass you are, then you need to go on a self exploration and realize all that you have to offer this world that doesn’t include filters that add in virtual lip fillers and blue eyes. Honey, you are perfect the way that you are. OWN it.
Outside of social media, other ways to build more confidence in yourself include goal setting (which you can read about here), in addition to ways to become more motivated and focused (which you can read bout here as well).
How has social media affected you and your confidence? Let us know below!
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