10 ways social media has severely increased people’s sense of entitlement (according to psychology)

There’s a clear link between social media usage and a growing sense of entitlement. Social media has drastically changed how we interact, communicate and perceive ourselves and others.

This sense of entitlement, often seen as expecting special treatment without merit or effort, has seeped into our daily lives. And it’s becoming a real problem.

Psychology can shed some light on how social media has drastically changed our perception of the world. While social media isn’t all bad, it’s important to understand its impact on our attitudes and behaviors.

Let’s dive into the ten ways that these platforms may be exacerbating our sense of entitlement. If these hit close to home, it might be time to reassess your relationship with the virtual world.

1) The illusion of celebrity

Social media has blurred the line between fame and everyday life.

We’re living in a world where anyone can become an “influencer” or a “public figure” with just a few thousand followers. This has created an illusion of celebrity, where people believe they’re more important than they actually are.

Think about it. When you post a picture or a thought and it gets likes and comments, it can feel like you’re a star with an adoring audience. This can inflate one’s sense of self-importance, contributing to a sense of entitlement.

Psychologists have found that heavy social media users often exhibit narcissistic tendencies, expecting admiration and validation from their “followers”. They feel entitled to this attention, even though it’s largely an illusion created by the social media platform.

Remember, likes and followers don’t equate to real-life value or importance. Don’t let the illusion of social media fame inflate your sense of entitlement.

2) The pressure of comparison

Personal confession? I’ve fallen into this trap too.

Social media is like a highlight reel of other people’s lives. You see their vacations, their achievements, their picture-perfect meals, and it can make your own life feel a little… dull in comparison.

One day, after scrolling through my feed filled with friends’ exotic trips and fancy dinners, I caught myself feeling discontented with my own life. Why wasn’t I vacationing in Bali? Why wasn’t I dining at that new hip restaurant?

We’ve all felt it at some point or another – that sinking feeling when you see someone else’s success, their happiness, their seemingly perfect life on social media. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially when your own life feels like a mess.

This constant comparison can breed a toxic sense of entitlement. We start to believe we ‘deserve’ the same success, experiences and luxuries we see others enjoying on social media. We feel entitled to the same picture-perfect existence. And when life doesn’t deliver, we feel cheated or wronged.

Psychologists call this “relative deprivation“. Even if our lives are good by objective standards, we feel deprived when we compare ourselves to others. This can feed into a growing sense of entitlement.

But here’s the raw truth: everyone is fighting their battles, everyone has their struggles, and nobody’s life is as perfect as it appears online.

If social media is making you feel entitled to a life that isn’t yours, it might be time to hit pause and reconnect with your authentic self and your unique journey. Remember that social media only shows the best parts of people’s lives. Don’t let it skew your perception or inflate your expectations.

3) The paradox of instant gratification

In a world of immediate likes, shares, and comments, social media has conditioned us to expect instant gratification. We post a photo or share a thought and within seconds we receive validation from our friends and followers. This cycle can be addictive, creating an increased sense of entitlement where we expect immediate acknowledgment and praise for our every action. 

However, this expectation is counterintuitive to how the real world operates. Achievements in life – whether they’re personal or professional, big or small – often require time, effort, and patience. The fruits of our labor may not be immediately visible and the acknowledgment may not be instant. 

This discrepancy between our digital expectations and real-world experiences can lead to frustration and an inflated sense of entitlement.

Remember, patience is a virtue. Not everything in life will (or should) come instantly and on our terms. Social media shouldn’t dictate your expectations for real-life interactions and achievements.

If you find yourself becoming impatient or frustrated when your efforts don’t yield immediate results, it might be worth considering how social media has influenced your expectations.

4) The echo chamber effect

Echo chamber effect 10 ways social media has severely increased people's sense of entitlement (according to psychology)

Social media platforms are designed to show us content that we agree with or might like, based on our past interactions. This leads to the creation of an ‘echo chamber’ where our beliefs and viewpoints are constantly reinforced, while dissenting opinions are filtered out.

While this might make our online experience more enjoyable, it can also foster a sense of entitlement. We start to believe that our views are the only correct ones and that everyone should agree with us. We feel entitled to constant validation and agreement, forgetting that diversity of thought is healthy and necessary for growth.

In essence, this echo chamber effect can stunt our emotional and intellectual development, making us less tolerant of differing opinions. 

Psychologists warn against the dangers of such echo chambers, pointing out that they can foster a lack of empathy and a sense of superiority. It’s important to remember that the world is full of diverse thoughts, beliefs, and experiences. Social media is not an accurate representation of this diversity. Don’t let it narrow your worldview or inflate your sense of entitlement.

If you find yourself unable to handle disagreements or differing perspectives, it might be time to break free from your digital echo chamber.

5) The illusion of constant validation

Social media thrives on validation. Every ‘like’, ‘share’, and ‘comment’ is a form of affirmation that we’re doing something right, something noteworthy. It’s a virtual pat on the back, telling us we’re valued and important.

This constant stream of validation can lead to a heightened sense of entitlement. We start to crave that validation, expecting it from every post we make. We begin to feel entitled to praise and attention.

We post a photo or a status update and expect it to be noticed, liked, and commented on. When this validation doesn’t happen, it can lead to feelings of disappointment or even resentment. This reliance on external validation can be detrimental to our mental health. 

So, remember, your worth is not defined by the number of likes or comments you get on social media. Don’t let the need for virtual validation fuel an unwarranted sense of entitlement.

6) The undermining of genuine relationships

There’s something incredibly special about a deep and genuine connection with another person. It’s something that makes us human and adds richness to our lives.

Unfortunately, social media can sometimes undermine these meaningful relationships, replacing them with shallow connections based on likes, comments, and shares. We start to value quantity over quality, collecting ‘friends’ like trophies.

This can lead to a sense of entitlement, where we expect constant attention and validation from a large number of people, rather than seeking meaningful connections with a few.

Psychologists warn that this can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, despite being ‘connected’ to hundreds or even thousands of people online.

Let’s remember to cherish the depth of our relationships over their digital breadth. Genuine connection is far more fulfilling than any number of likes or followers. Don’t let social media’s superficial connections feed into an undeserved sense of entitlement.

7) The illusion of a perfect life

Scrolling through social media, I’ve often been struck by the apparently flawless lives everyone seems to lead. Gorgeous homes, perfect bodies, enviable vacations, flawless relationships, adorable children who never seem to throw tantrums.

The pressure to present a polished, perfect image on social media can exacerbate our sense of entitlement and lead us to believe that we too must be perfect. We begin to feel entitled to a life without flaws, without struggles and hardships, without the messy realities that make us human. That it’s our right to have a perfectly curated existence.

But here’s the harsh truth: life is not a highlight reel. Real life includes failures, heartbreaks, and moments of doubt. It’s important to remember that what we see on social media is a controlled narrative, not an accurate reflection of someone’s reality.

This perfectionism can lead to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. It’s a dangerous game, and one that we play at our own mental and emotional risk.

If you find yourself feeling entitled to a ‘perfect’ life because of what you see on social media, it might be time to take a step back and reassess your perception of reality.

Embrace your imperfections. They make you unique, they make you real. Don’t let the false perfectionism of social media feed into an unrealistic sense of entitlement.

8) The trap of popularity metrics

No post likes 10 ways social media has severely increased people's sense of entitlement (according to psychology)

Likes, comments, shares, followers – these are the new currencies of popularity on social media. We judge our worth based on these numbers, often tying our self-esteem to them. The more we have, the better we feel.

Ironically, this can lead to an inflated sense of entitlement. We start to believe that we deserve constant engagement and an ever-growing follower count. We feel entitled to popularity and admiration, forgetting that these metrics are often fleeting and superficial.

In reality, our worth cannot and should not be defined by such arbitrary numbers. It’s a trap that can leave us feeling perpetually unsatisfied and constantly chasing after the next like or follower. If you find yourself feeling entitled to high engagement or a large following on social media, it might be time to reassess your worth beyond these popularity metrics.

9) The erosion of empathy

At its core, entitlement is a lack of empathy. It’s an inability to understand or care about the needs and feelings of others. And unfortunately, social media can sometimes feed this lack of empathy.

On social media, we’re often shielded from the consequences of our words and actions. We can post a harsh comment or ignore a heartfelt message with no immediate repercussions. This can lead to a decrease in empathy and an increase in entitlement.

Decreased empathy can lead to increased conflict and decreased satisfaction in relationships. It’s a dangerous path to walk down.

The most important thing to remember is this: Behind every profile, every post, every comment, is a real person with real feelings. Treat them with the same kindness and respect you would want to be treated with. Don’t let the anonymity of social media erode your empathy or inflate your sense of entitlement.

10) The false sense of control for digital perfection 

Social media gives us the power to curate our own online world. The advent of filters, photo editing apps, and the ‘delete’ button has allowed us to present a polished, perfected version of ourselves online.

We decide who to follow, what to post, which opinions to share. We can edit out our flaws, our mistakes, and our bad days, presenting only the best to the world.

This illusion of control for digital perfection can lead to a twisted sense of entitlement. We begin to expect that we should have control over all aspects of our life, that we should be free of flaws and mistakes, and we can get upset when reality doesn’t meet these expectations.

We feel entitled to a flawless existence, both online and offline. But social media isn’t real life. In real life, we don’t have control over everything.

Such control for digital perfection is not only unattainable but also inauthentic. It’s a distorted perception that can lead to self-doubt and dissatisfaction.

Don’t let the illusion of control fostered by social media inflate your sense of entitlement. It’s okay not to have control over everything. Embrace the unpredictability – it’s what makes life interesting.

Final thoughts: It’s about awareness and balance

As we navigate through the digital landscape, it’s crucial to understand the profound impact that social media can have on our psyche. The points discussed above paint a picture of how these platforms can distort our perception of reality and inflate our sense of entitlement.

It might seem a daunting reality to face – the idea that our online interactions could be subtly shaping our self-perceptions and expectations. But it’s crucial to remember that awareness is the first step towards change.

The power of social media isn’t inherently negative. It can connect us, inspire us, and open doors to opportunities we might never have had otherwise. However, like any tool, its impact depends largely on how we use it.

We need to strive for balance – to enjoy the benefits of social media without letting it distort our sense of reality or inflate our sense of entitlement.

Consider this: A study in the ‘Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology’ found that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day resulted in significant reductions in loneliness and depression.

So here’s a gentle reminder: Don’t let your online life overshadow your offline existence. Keep your social media use in check. Value real connections over virtual likes. And most importantly, remember that the world owes you nothing – your worth is intrinsic and not tied to the number of followers you have or likes you get.

As we navigate this digital age, let’s strive to do it with empathy, humility, and a well-grounded sense of self.

Picture of Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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