Before coming to the “own hero” explanation, I must introduce the hero idea. Admiring a hero is not a bad thing in itself. The problem is the overload of information we are gaining nowadays about our heroes. The more significant problem is, the fake information we are receiving. We can possibly learn so much about someone, that we believe we have the whole picture.
Don’t deny it; it’s complicated to make such a difference. We admire someone we believe we know. Then, unconsciously we crave for such their perfect life exposed on Instagram or youtube or whatever online page. We know that this is not the complete picture, but we tend to ignore it, or at least forget about it.
I’m going to be straightforward here; the base of this post is very much about the influence the Internet has on our self-esteem. So the subject may be more about heroes in general, but the thesis is more about social media influence. But still, what we can apply to these comparison boosters, can be used for anything else that brings our ego down.
I want to be honest: this post is a long one, but I sincerely hope you stay with until the end and follow my path!
How having a hero influences our behaviour
A hero is a character, real or not, “who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities” according to the dictionary. Humanity is in a perpetual need for heroes. As long as men were able to create stories, they were telling about human beings whom actions were worth remembering. Even the animals painted in the Lascaux caves were of some feared by men, therefore of outstanding courage and bravery.
So heroes have always been there in our stories, novels, histories, then movies and so on. They are the example we want to follow. They are people of extraordinary talents that we are glad they exist, so we know it’s doable. Heroes symbolize success, hope, excellence, genius. They are the best of the best. No, they are the ones who are worthy enough to be named upon so many of us.
Heros are part of our brain structure. We need to set an example, even if the goal often seems too far to be achieved. Maybe that’s where part of the problem lies today. If we talk about heroes such as Hercules or war heroes, we know that their success is unachievable, but that’s ok. The circumstances or the fact that they are characters from tales make their exploits naturally out of reach. We don’t feel like a failure because we will never be able to clean the Augean stables.
Where do we find our heroes nowadays
On the contrary, today we see our heroes in ordinary men and women. They achieve great things by all means, but nothing worth to be on the wall of “unachievable” by most of us. A thousands of years old idea that heroes are beyond reach is strongly settled in our mind, memory and culture.
For most of us, heroes are found on a screen today. They are presidents, scientists, movie start, writer, successful business person, or just what we call an influencer. These persons are doing a lot, but if they are remarkable, for most of them, it’s because they work hard. Modern heroes are the ones who show up every day, and they believe in their dreams no matter what.
Our choice of heroes is very personal; there are so many of them! Each one of us can find the one suitable for their mental needs. But these modern heroes are doing nothing that is out of reach. Only, we are conditioned by a long human line and believe they are living on a different level anyway. We take for granted that what they do belongs to a different world, a world of modern heroes.
What are the effects of social media comparison
Now, for the sake of a reasonable post length, I will take the single example of the heroes we are following online. These social influencers that have achieved what many of us is dreaming of making: having an impressive amount of followers. It could also be renamed “earning a six figures thanks to their blog or social account” or “being famous enough to be solicited by brands for their photos and words on the Internet.” Whatever you name it, you know very well who they are. They are the rockstars of the online social world you follow.
So now, let’s get back to our problem. We can’t but compare ourselves to these successful persons. We can’t help but compare to these heroes we are admiring through Instagram daily photos, or blog posts mentioning that they already visited 320 counties in 10 years (by the way, the world we know only counts 195 or 193 countries depending on the criteria).
Compare to heroes wisely
Right here is my point, their life is a human life, and whatever they say to make them feel great, and you feel bad in the same process, it’s only a bit of the story. They carefully filter what they show; they are their self-legend teller. I don’t want to say that everything said online is a web of lies. Not even close. The Internet is my job too; I wouldn’t do it correctly if I didn’t believe in what I’m creating. What I mean is, they tell the world the fascinating part, they simplify to make it exciting and “followable” or “likable.” They show what’s worthy, what can make them famous, or eventually what is interesting enough to achieve their ultimate goal: make a decent living from what they sell.
Here we are: you are comparing yourself to people like you, except you only have the extraordinary part of them. A mix of several gaps between what we know and what we believe is tricking our mind daily. The first gap is that heroes destiny is out of reach, and the fact that modern heroes destiny can be achieved by most of us through hard work and sensible choices. The second one is that we love these modern heroes because they are people like us, but the image we have of them is incomplete. Therefore they are not as we are anymore; they are not even like themselves. We inevitably compare to someone who is not really human. We are confused by this permanent game between the real image and imaginary perfection.
How social media and internet are influencing your self-esteem
The second gap is the one I’m interested in today. This gap is the one responsible for low global self-esteem and lack of gratitude we have toward life in cultures depending on smartphones. This impossible comparison creates a lot of damages on its way. We are naming them sometimes, with new words like FOMO (fear of missing out). Or we are relating this very modern issue with words coming straight from ancient Greece, like the growing narcism emanating from the selfie addiction.
In Canada, a study has stated that women spending 20 hours a week on social media, had a body dissatisfaction 3 times higher than women spending 1 hour a week on their accounts. Only because they show the best, the most beautiful “babes” out there. And this last word is not from me, any young, beautiful, lady with success on social media is now a “babe” apparently. Even sometimes the older not so sexy ones get labelled like that by mistake. Apparently, it’s impossible to be successful in this industry without being young and sexy, therefore being a “babe.”
What I found about self-love
So I did my homework. I googled “self-love.” What I found was very surprising. Only 1 out of the 6 first articles answering to “self-love” wasn’t about self-love issues within teenagers and millennials (another new online word!). This article was the Wikipedia definition. Where are we now? We are fooled by an internet filled with only the most beautiful young slender 20 years old women, but they are the ones suffering the most from this situation.
I must admit I sincerely believed that 40+ women would suffer far more of this situation than the young ones, regarding the fact that we just can’t go backward and lose our years. Therefore we are naturally and inexorably excluded from this likability. But anyway, the most alarming fact was that I did not google “self-love issues,” but “self-love,” and the first pages were only about how to regain self-love, how we lack self-love, apart from the Wikipedia definition of course.
Self-love and self-esteem are severely lacking today, especially in the wealthiest societies. Both are alarmingly lacking. Most of the reasons mentioned for this lack of self-love is social media.
The fast reward of social media and their heroes
I tried to understand the process we are going through when we browse our social media. What makes them so dangerous for our ego? Why are we so impressed by others? What on earth is happening to our mind that makes it hates our body and our soul in this process?
I found the answer, a quite complex one, but I going to make it short for the sake of your good time. Dopamine is responsible for our misery online. It’s surprising because dopamine is what our brain needs to feel good. So if dopamine is good, then why is it wrong in that case?
It’s bad when human nature tends to become lazy and seek a fast reward. We want to feel good, and we want to feel good as fast as possible, as often as possible. We want it to be easy.
When we first posted a photo online, we collected a few likes, and we were happy with them. Dopamine rewarded our brain, who immediately craved for more. We tried to make better because it’s all about improvement. We searched for examples, for heroes, and we started copying them. If they made it, we believe we can make it too by following the same path! Once we’ll have their success, how high on Dopamine will we be! Logical isn’t it?
The benefits of creativity
The fact is, the Dopamine level received by a copycat success is fast rewarding but has a very short life expectancy. But once we are in the process of quick Dopamine doses, we are in a vicious circle that prevents us from seeking the real lifelong Dopamine dose. Creating something with our analysis and our structure content is the jackpot in the matter of Dopamine. The reward is so efficient that in some cases, it can last forever.
Why don’t we all seek for such an achievement then? Well, why does the river go around the mountain instead of working its way through? You’ve got it; it’s easier to avoid the difficulties! When we have a small dose of dopamine, we don’t have to wait very long for it. When we look for great achievements, it can be years before having the reward. But this reward is forever!
In short, real creativity is preventing us from Dopamine withdrawal, but it’s a very long process. It’s far easier to choose a hero to follow and copy than working on our success. On the other hand, it’s not long before the fast rewards are not enough to get your brain high with Dopamine, that’s when self-love and self-esteem are falling far below the ground level. Not to mention each one success is their own. You must find your way, the way that suits you, else you will certainly never make it. In that case, the feeling of failure is even worse.
Just go for it and be your own hero!
It took me a long post to bring you to my first sentence: why do I want to be my own hero? I want to be my own hero just because I want that forever green Dopamine. I believe my brain deserves that. The human mind is incredible, and no one should spoil it on purpose. We deserve to be proud of ourselves, we deserve to be happy, that’s why I want to be my own hero, and follow my dreams. I want to accomplish the big one, or better, I want to achieve the big ones!
It’s great to be inspired by others’ success, but don’t let them fool you, don’t let them spoil your creativity, what makes you unique.
What about you, what are you aiming for?
If you want to read more about taking care of your mind: