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Does social media feed our inner perfectionists?

When someone hears the word “perfectionist,” there is a possibility that someone comes to anyone'’s mind. It could be their mother, a friend, a random stranger, or themself. But what is the definition of perfectionism? 

According to the Association of Psychologists in America, perfectionism is the tendency to demand of others or oneself an extremely high level of performance, above what is required. 

There are three types of perfectionists and two types of perfectionism. Firstly would be the socially prescribed perfectionist. This type of perfectionist is characterized by an individual's tendency to believe that the field around them expects perfection from them. Secondly, the other-oriented perfectionist expects excellence and perfection from others. The last one is the self-oriented perfectionist who sets high standards and goals for themselves. Specifically, the self-oriented and the socially prescribed perfectionists are more prone to develop more significant depressive symptoms. These types would be categorized as “unhealthy” perfectionism. Those who belong to this group tend to set unrealistic goals, be more critical of themselves and others, continually revisit past mistakes, and have difficulty making decisions. This is due to the fear of failure that often comes with perfectionism. Healthy perfectionism means being focused and driven, setting realistic goals, and working to achieve them without tiring.

So how does perfectionism link to social media?

Social media is a prevalent medium that nowadays almost everyone uses daily. It could be Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok; social media is everywhere and just one click away. Folk tends to post their best, most luxurious lives on social media. The more likes, views, and comments, the better. This then leads to unrealistic parameters to which other people compare themselves. For example, some models on Instagram alter their images with the help of apps such as FaceTune or use other filters that might accentuate certain features. Expressly adolescents set these parameters as their standards, leading to negative body image. Particular people could be striving for that type of perfection that is portrayed on social media and forget that they are unattainable. This is where perfectionism comes into place and helps us answer and understand our main question.

Does social media feed our inner perfectionists?

The answer: Yes, but it is not simple. Many factors play a role when it comes to the inner self. However, one thing is sure, research and study have shown that it leads to early perfectionism development in children and adolescents. This is due to the usage of social media and young age. Since the children haven't had the time yet to form the fitting coping mechanisms to defend themselves, they usually tend to develop an unhealthier way of perfectionism which would represent the underlying causes for the rise in depression, anxiety, and eating disorders and also poor physical health. In adults, it could lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol or drug abuse.

Social media does have its benefits, such as connecting people globally and making communication more accessible than ever before. Still, we must realize and detect when something is wrong or good for us. It is important to teach the younger generation the worth of themselves and how to cope with perfectionism, mistakes, and unattainable standards so that the numbers sink again and their mental health recuperate. 


Sources: 

Randy O. Frost, Richard G. Heimberg, Craig S. Holt, Jill I. Mattia, Amy L. Neubauer,

A comparison of two measures of perfectionism,

Personality and Individual Differences,

Volume 14, Issue 1, 1993,

Pages 119-126,

ISSN 0191-8869

Fatemeh Ghanbari Jahromi, Ghasem Naziri, Majid Barzegar,

The relationship between socially prescribed perfectionism and depression: The mediating role of maladaptive cognitive schemas,

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences,

Volume 32,2012,

Pages 141-147,

ISSN 1877-0428

Sandoiu, A. (2018, October 12). The effects of perfectionism on mental and physical health. Www.medicalnewstoday.com. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323323

SURFconext - Select an account to login to Maastricht University - Hosted EZProxy. (n.d.). Engine.surfconext.nl. Retrieved August 10, 2022, from https://www-sciencedirect-com.mu.idm.oclc.org/science/article/pii/0191886993901812

Ruggeri, A. (2018, February 21). The dangerous downsides of perfectionism. Bbc.com; BBC Future. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise

‌Messinger, H. (2019). Dis-like: How Social Media Feeds into Perfectionism – PR News. Pennmedicine.org. https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-blog/2019/november/dis-like-how-social-media-feeds-into-perfectionism

‌APA Dictionary of Psychology. (n.d.). Dictionary.apa.org. https://dictionary.apa.org/perfectionism

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