Women can be their own worst critics more often than not, which is why not adding to the negativity should be an overriding goal. But what if the criticism and negativity is hard to avoid, as in the case of what others say about us online?

A new study from Cornell University, published in the International Journal of Communication, reveals how challenging it can be to navigate one’s online life, and the toll it can take on our psychological well-being. The study examined female influencers using Instagram and discovered that from a psychological perspective, they were bombarded with harassing and critical comments especially in regard to being too real or too fake.  

The researchers labeled this problem an, “authenticity bind,” essentially a no-win situation.

Study author Brooke Erin Duffy explained it this way: “People are compelled to be authentic and ‘real’ but in ways that are really narrowly defined. If they’re too real, if they show too much of their inner thoughts or they express too much, they fear criticism. But if they aren’t real enough, if they’re highly curated and very performative, or idealized and aspirational, they fear blowback. So, a woman on social media, especially with a large following, essentially can’t win.”

Overall online abuse and harassment are prevalent but according to the researchers, negativity is more common among female users.

According to the study participants, each routinely censored herself in anticipation of criticism, a sign that online abuse is exacting a mental toll.

“You haven’t really made it till you’ve been hated on,” said one Instagram influencer who took part in the study.

What’s the takeaway message? Going off the grid isn’t a viable option for everyone, especially for those who make a living online.

But safeguarding your mental health is always an option! Here are a few tips to do just that:

  • Value yourself: avoid self-criticism
  • Value your relationships: positive social connections are crucial to a healthy support system
  • Value your mental health: seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength, not a weakness

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and other mental health challenges, now is the time to reach out for help. At Arbor Behavioral Healthcare, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals who understand addiction in all its forms. We use an integrative and holistic approach and no treatment is one-size-fits-all. At The Arbor, you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit so you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us today at 844-413-2690.