Since childhood, we, as human beings, are taught to look to others for signals and indications about how to live our lives. It is an innate human desire to evaluate, assess, and improve our skills based on what everyone else leads us to perceive is right or ideal. Such comparison is a necessary facet to social order- we compare political leaders, stocks, investments, property, ect. in order to determine what choice will lead to the best outcome. However, leaping into the abyss of comparison is not always one worth taking. With the recent exponential growth of technology, social comparison is at an ultimate high- not only between rival companies, but also due to social media, between everyday people.
Although some may say that social media fosters healthy relationships between individuals, I am arguing that advertisement and the misrepresentation of oneself on social media affects both body image and mental health, suggesting that as a society we need to reassess the value we place on social networking sites (SNSs). Through examining multiple studies, observations, hypotheses, and analyses, I will demonstrate that social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, can quickly change a robust community of online interaction to a place of frustration and despair.
An essential prerequisite to my argument is grasping a two key terms: Social Comparison Tendency, also referred to as SCO, and parasocial interaction, or PSI. Social Comparison Tendency (SCO) is an individual difference variable referring to how we define our personal and social worth based on self-comparison to others.1 Parasocial interaction (PSI) can be defined as “the illusion of a face-to-face relationship with a media performer.”2
Ultimately , in this paper, I will be taking an psychoanalysis and theoretical approach to describe the notion of social comparison in women through: (1) providing a framework for social media consumption patterns, (2) examining both the advertiser’s role and the individual’s role in social media, (3) exploring the adverse psychological outcomes of social media use, and (4) determining what that means for society.
Baz, Hannah, "The Underlying Consequences of Social Media" (2016). Pop Culture Intersections. 13.