Thanks to Facebook and other social media sites, when we’re feeling blue, we can get a much needed ego boost online.

But, how healthy is it to seek external approval in this way?
While it might momentarily lift our spirits, does it really give us what we need; self-esteem and a strong sense of self?

And what happens when we don’t get the praise we’ve come to expect?

Gemini Adams, Healthy Living expert, founder of The Unplug Series and author of the award-winning humor book, The Facebook Diet, answers these and more questions about the health of this high-tech habit for Women’s Fitness magazine:

1. Why does Facebook praise i.e. someone liking your status or photograph make us feel good?
Various scientific studies have shown that our brains release a burst of dopamine when we discover new and interesting or challenging information, which is why we get that mini-high when someone gives us a virtual thumbs-up.

2. Is this kind of online praise addictive?
Yes. A study from Harvard University recently revealed that talking about ourselves (online) triggers the same sensation of pleasure and satisfaction we get from food, money, or sex. When get praise for our posts, in the form of comments, likes, or shares, it only adds to the pleasures sense, and therefore makes the act of sharing even more addictive and appealing. It’s a very vicious cycle.

3. A lot of celebrities are dedicated social network users, such as Rihanna, are attention-seeking personalities particularly prone to seeking approval from others in this way?
Definitely. Facebook has a far greater number of extroverts than introverts as users. The latter tend to use it in a more reclusive way: they’re the ones who have every privacy function turned “on” whereas the extroverts are typically much more open. Facebook is also increasingly encouraging us all to behave in a more narcissistic way, just like celebrities.
Yet we no longer need to wait to be cast in a reality TV show to broadcast our every-day-lives 24/7, now we can do it directly from our own homes, on the bus via our mobile phones, even from the bathroom, thanks to Facebook!

4. How damaging is it to rely on other people to fuel our self-esteem?
It’s extremely dangerous to seek approval and a sense of self outside of yourself. While compliments can be pleasantly uplifting, if you suffer from negative self-perceptions and are constantly looking for others to tell you how ‘nice’ you look, how ‘smart’ you are, or how ‘good’ you are—whether that’s online or offline—then you are constantly going to suffer. You need to work with someone who can help you get to the root of where your negative beliefs came from and form habits that will help you gain a stronger sense of self so you can learn to be at peace and feel comfortable in your own skin.

5. Have we lost the ability to measure our own self-worth?
No, I don’t think so. But increasingly people are comparing themselves to other people’s Facebook persona’s, which, when look deeper, aren’t a real reflection of who we are or what we truly experience on a daily basis. Most of us project our better selves into our online lives, we rarely pour our hearts out in status updates, or share just how difficult we are finding life, financial stresses, raising the kids, the pressures or work, etc. Instead we post about the fun stuff and the positive elements of our lives — our profiles provide a very warped perspective of who we truly are and how we live. That’s why there’s so much jealousy on Facebook. Yet, what we post is only the half of — it’s Fake-book, really.

6. What happens to our self esteem when we don’t get the online praise we expect?
If you do suffer from low self-esteem, then you are more likely to react in a negative when you don’t receive praise from others. Because you don’t feel happy inside you need other people’s approval to give your permission to feel good about yourself. And, when this doesn’t happen, guess what? You feel bad. Those bad feelings can range from mild annoyance to major depression and, even worse, you partaking in self-destructive behaviors. If you fall into this category, do yourself a favor and use your Facebook time to read books on developing self-love.

7. How can you begin to feel good about your own accomplishments without having to rely on others for praise?
It’s very challenging for people who don’t have self-esteem to develop it. Especially as the lack of it is usually linked to negative conditioning from friends, parents or peers who continue to re-enforce such negative patterns. You have to learn how to think and behave in an entirely different way. When you have enough evidence that your decisions really support you and that you have accomplished something for you, then you can start to feel good. The best way to start this is to observe your inner self-talk. Just listen to the names you call yourself and the language you use. Then start to replace to negative words with positive ones, so instead of saying “you idiot” when you do something wrong, say “I’ll learn to do that right next time.”

8. How can you tell if you are too reliant on online praise?
If you find yourself jonesing to check your Facebook page or your Twitter feed, or your texts, wondering whether or not people have commented, or “liked’ what you posted, or you get that craving feeling in your chest — literally a physical sensation that sort of pulls and pushes you at the same time — then you probably have a bit of a problem and could do with taking a good honest look at how and why you are really using social media. It’s probably time to seriously consider going on a Facebook Diet and making a decision to regularly unplug.

Author's Bio: 

By, Gemini Adams, author of healthy living and humor books, including The Facebook Diet: 50 Funny Signs of Facebook Addiction and Ways to Unplug with a Digital Detox (first in The Unplug Series) and Your Legacy of Love: Realize the Gift in Goodbye. Find her @geminiadams or @unplugseries