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Virtual reality has stepped from the realm of science fiction and left its footprints all over our everyday lives. ...
Virtual reality has stepped from the realm of science fiction and left its footprints all over our everyday lives. But what is behind the growing culture of social media and the digitally-stored life? And what emotional stakes do we have in their survival?
In an article published in Psychology Today, titled, “Is Facebook Good or Bad for Your Self Esteem?” psychologists seem to agree that your Facebook experience is largely determined by your personality, and how you feel about life, with those feelings intensifying as your identification with a digital existence grows.
Amanda Forrest and Joanne Wood, whose work is published in Psychological Science, suggest that if you are lonely and insecure, Facebook will exacerbate that, while those with high self-esteem will find boosted self-confidence through virtual interactions.
But many psychologists disagree about the effects of our digital lives. Professor Jeffrey Hancock of Cornell University argues that, "Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem, if that image doesn't match with our idea, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves."
Conversely, a study by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. suggested that, “viewing and editing your Facebook profile could boost your self-esteem...and Facebook can be a tool to promote greater self-awareness.” Others suggest that it’s a social training field, where participants adjust their interactions based on the kind of feedback they receive.
But do our interactions and adjustments allow us to improve our social adaptability or obscure our identity as individuals?
Whether Facebook reveals or disguises our true selves, the consensus is that we form a strong identity bond with our digital representations, and because evidence regarding the effects of this remains inconclusive, it is important to remember that digital storage is not equivalent to a fail-safe vault.
Mistakes are made and information is lost.
Understanding the potential dangers of investing so much into an erasable digital reality should help Facebook participants keep their emotional distance and avoid any feelings of loss. Neither should social networking be the source of any unfounded aggravation or self-esteem issues.
Facebook can be a useful networking tool, and can help people keep in touch when separated by tangible distance. Still, it is important not to let your digital life obscure or damage your actual reality.