Images of men, presenting themselves in different ways. To illustrate an article about self-presentation on self-transcendence.org

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Self Presentation

Self-presentation is the process of conveying a certain image of oneself to others, often to achieve social goals or influence others’ perceptions. Self-presentation can be motivated by various factors, such as seeking positive feedback, status, or approval from others, especially on social media platforms. However, self-presentation can also have negative consequences for one’s mental health and wellbeing, especially for children and young adults who are more vulnerable to social influences and peer pressure.

According to Goffman (1959), self-presentation is an essential part of social interaction, as people try to control the impressions they make on others by expressing themselves in certain ways. However, self-presentation can also become a source of stress and anxiety, especially when there is a discrepancy between one’s actual self and ideal self (see self-concept), or when one feels that they have to conform to unrealistic or unattainable standards of appearance, behaviour, or performance. This can lead to low self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence, as well as feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy.

Moreover, self-presentation on social media can exacerbate these negative effects, as people are constantly exposed to curated and edited images of others, which can create unrealistic expectations and comparisons. Research has shown that a high focus on self-presentation on social media is associated with more mental health problems and reduced quality of life (Bergmann et al., 2021; Kowalski et al., 2022). For instance, self-presentation on social media can increase the risk of developing depressive symptoms (Bergmann et al., 2021), lower body satisfaction (Kowalski et al., 2022), and lower wellbeing (Kowalski et al., 2022).

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential pitfalls of self-presentation and how it can affect one’s mental health and well-being. Self-presentation is not inherently bad or harmful, but it should be balanced with self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-care. Self-care is the practice of taking care of one’s physical, emotional, and mental health needs in a proactive and intentional way. Self-care can help improve one’s self-concept, self-esteem, and self-worth, as well as enhance one’s optimism, positive outlook on life, and resilience to stress (Romanoff & Gupta, 2023). Self-care can also help reduce the negative impact of self-presentation on social media by fostering a more realistic and healthy perspective on oneself and others.

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In conclusion, self-presentation is a common and natural phenomenon that can have both positive and negative effects on one’s mental health and well-being. Self-presentation can help achieve social goals and influence others’ perceptions, but it can also cause stress and anxiety when it creates a gap between one’s actual self and ideal self, or when it leads to unrealistic or unhealthy comparisons with others on social media. Therefore, it is important to balance self-presentation with self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-care, which can help improve one’s self-concept, self-esteem, and self-worth, as well as enhance one’s mental health and wellbeing.

References

Bergmann M.C., Kowalski C., Schmuck D., Batinic B., Baumeister H., Montag C. Through the Looking Glass of Social Media. Focus on Self-Presentation on Social Media Is Associated with Symptoms of anxiety and depression in Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study among German Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(6):3319. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18063319

Goffman E. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday; 1959.

Kowalski C., Bergmann M.C., Schmuck D., Batinic B., Baumeister H., Montag C. Focus on Self-Presentation on Social Media Is Associated with Body Dissatisfaction in Adolescents: A Cross-Sectional Study among German Adolescents. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(17):11133. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191711133

Romanoff S., Gupta S. The Importance of Self-reflection: How Looking Inward Can Improve Your Mental Health. Verywell Mind. 2023 May 26; https://www.verywellmind.com/self-reflection-importance-benefits-and-strategies-7500858

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