The Impact of Social Media on Accelerated Intimacy, Self-Esteem and Boundaries

July 21, 2017
Communication has never been so fast, easy or so destructive. Facebook, Kik, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and text messaging are likely the most common forms of communication used by young people today. Compulsive and uninformed use of social media outlets can lead to an accelerated sense of intimacy, decreased self esteem and a poor understanding of boundaries. It seems that the intent of social media is to assist in connecting others. Although social media can serve this purpose, it can also lead to feelings of being disconnected and alienated by the very people or groups we wish to connect with. For instance, older generations had a very different experience – direct face to face contact was the “meet up” and voice calls were the only way to “chat.” Certainly, these generational differences in consumption of media, has lead to a lack of understanding of the internet culture present in today’s youth.

An Addiction to Access of Social Media

An addiction to, or dependence on technology is promoted when we increase screen time and decrease time spent reading, creating, building, or engaging with others in “real time.” Constant, 24/7 access to the activities and whereabouts of others is unnatural, but normalized through the use of social media. If you find yourself distracted and pre-occupied, you may want to consider that compulsive checking of social media accounts, although common practice, can run counter to productivity and lead to feelings of isolation. Excessive use of social media can lead to relying on technology for connection and the feeling of being close to another. The lack of actual face to face contact can lead to difficulty interacting in social outings and can continue the negative feedback loop of returning to social media to fulfill social needs. The inability to wait or the need for instant gratification or response can also increase, when we spend hours focused on social media. Have you ever wondered why those photo editing apps with blemish blurring and the ability to whiten your teeth exist? For many, altering a photo can provide a way to avoid reality, and to instantly perfect perceived flaws. Additionally, issues of self-worth can arise from receiving fewer “likes” and fewer friend requests than others, which can prompt issues with identity and self-image. Today, there seems to be increased pressure to glamorize your social media identity, which can clash with the expectation that the “real” self will match the internet self. It appears that the more time we spend perfecting our social media presence, the less time we spend working on the actual self. Having 780 friends on Facebook is not a resume-worthy accolade, and will not likely help you get a job. Further, employers may screen candidates’ social media profiles to assess fit and potential representation issues.

Accelerated Intimacy 

Some individuals may experience a disproportionate investment in the lives of online friends because of access to personal information presented on social media. Having access to updates on our ups and downs provides an opportunity for others to ask inappropriate questions, or to feel entitled to personal information. Being online “friends” with people who are not your actual friends is a strange phenomenon, as is avoiding someone in real life who you are virtual friends with. Given the widespread use of social media, inappropriate boundaries are normalized, and exercising privacy and healthy boundaries is sometimes seen as evasive. The pressure to maintain appearances of relationship success is difficult to manage. Mere acquaintances are able to track relationship progress or failure based on the type and amount of social media posting. Does it seem natural for a person you had one class with in high school to know that you and your boyfriend broke up, what you ate for lunch, or what you look like in a swim suit? Jefferson Oaks and Social Media

How We Can Help You

Given this discussion of the pitfalls of social media, there are strategies to safely use it. After all, it was designed to connect people with friends and loved ones, and is a major element of the current culture. For the most part, each person is responsible for and in control of their exposure on social media. When it becomes the primary source of communication and connection this can increase the risk of alienating the self from real or actual relationships that are more reciprocal in nature and provide a deeper more authentic connection. At Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health in Baton Rouge, our patients learn how to establish and practice healthy boundaries that lead to more meaningful relationships in their private and professional lives. Due to our focus on the group therapy model at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health in Baton Rouge, patients are exposed to diverse experiences, attitudes and feelings. Patients have the opportunity to connect and explore issues or concerns that are often universal. How to cope and recover from grief, loss, depression, family conflict and addiction are common themes that are addressed in group therapy. Family therapy sessions provide the ability to engage with family members in a safe space, exploring sensitive topics, and ensuring the necessary supports are in place for sustainable recovery. In individual counseling sessions at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health, your assigned Primary Therapist assists you in focusing your treatment in a personal and professional manner, to support growth and progress. By using a strengths-based approach to client care, Primary Therapists and group facilitators treat and celebrate the whole person. Individualized treatment plans with concrete skills and therapeutic activities are developed by the patient and Primary Therapist to identify goals and areas of focus. Each day of treatment at Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health provides an opportunity to safely practice open communication and vulnerability. With the goals of social skill-building and emotional expression in mind, Jefferson Oaks Behavioral Health in Baton Rouge offers Healthy Communication, Co-dependencies, Relationships, Anger Management, Assertiveness, and Self-Esteem treatment groups, which offer real-life skills and education to patients. We strive to help you become the best version of yourself. Developing and implementing boundaries is a necessary step to practice self-compassion, and protect yourself from further hurt and disappointment. Group therapy simply acts as microcosm of real life experiences and acts as a safe space to explore and identify ways to bring more purpose and wellness to the life you are leading. For more information on our program, please contact us at or call 225-927-5624.