How Social Media can Reinforce Perfectionism


Are you curious how social media can reinforce perfectionism?  Perfectionism isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While some people might see it as a good thing, it’s actually a condition that can make life feel harder than it needs to be. It can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety, and leave you feeling empty and dissatisfied more often than not.

Unfortunately, we live in a social media-fueled world that can actually reinforce and feed perfectionism.

There’s no denying some of the benefits of social media. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people and see what’s going on in the world. But, it’s often nothing more than a highlight reel of people’s lives, which can lead to comparison issues, and a greater “need” to be perfect.

Let’s dig a little deeper into how social media can reinforce perfectionism, and how you can fight back against it.

A Threat to Your Sense of Belonging

Again, social media is a great way to connect with friends and family members. But, it can also make you feel like you’re missing out on things.

Maybe a friend posted a picture on Instagram of a night out with several other mutual friends, but you weren’t invited. Maybe a family member is playing a sport you enjoy and you feel envious that you’re not joining in.

When you feel left out of any situation as a perfectionist, your mind is going to tell you it’s because you’re not good enough. Or, people might not like you as much as you want them to.

When those thoughts enter, it’s hard to ignore them. So, you might start to take even more extreme measures to be “perfect” so you’re included in things in the future. You might work even harder to be better at certain sports or hobbies so you don’t feel a sense of envy or jealousy when you see someone else doing something.

Only a Fraction of the Story

No one is posting the negative, dark moments of their lives on Facebook. Instead, they’re sharing highlights from their lives. They’re using filters on photos, and not showing you what’s going on behind the scenes.

While most people realize that, it’s not always easy to keep in mind when you’re scrolling through social media.

When you see someone’s “perfect” life, it can fuel your own perfectionism. You might wonder what you’re doing wrong to not live as perfectly as them, so you’ll work harder to make up for any “gaps,” even if there aren’t any.

Unrealistic Standards

Social media has become a hub for businesses and organizations over the last several years. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just another way for brands to try to influence people into thinking their lives aren’t good enough.

On social media, you might see targeted ads with perfect-looking people, driving expensive cars or having clean homes. The media setting unrealistic standards is nothing new. But, when it’s in front of your face every time you open your computer or phone, it becomes impossible to ignore.

These things can cause you to feel inadequate or inferior, fueling your perfectionism and potentially causing you to make decisions you might later regret.

So, what’s the best way to keep social media from reinforcing perfectionism? Set boundaries for yourself. Consider a digital detox now and then, and understand that you’re likely not getting the whole truth when it comes to what you’re seeing on the screen.

Next Steps

A man sits with a clipboard while across from another person. This could represent the support an anxiety therapist in Arcadia, AZ can offer. Learn more about anxiety treatment in Phoenix, AZ and overcoming anxiety symptoms in Arcadia, AZ. If you’re still struggling with perfectionism, consider reaching out to a professional for help. You are enough, exactly the way you are. A therapist can help you uncover the root cause of your perfectionism and help you come up with practical ways to keep social media from making it worse. Crossroads therapists also utilize evidence-based treatment protocols like EMDR, EFT, and ACT.  ACT stands for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and uses strategies of acceptance and mindfulness, along with commitment and behavior change. This helps to deal with those unwanted thoughts that often lead to anxiety and to effectively manage feelings of fear.

Click here to visit our anxiety therapy page.  Also, check out our anxiety counseling video below…