Authenticity and Social Media, by Dr. Dan Martin, Clinical Psychologist

Dear Community,

I have shared my thoughts about resilience and learning to cope with hardship. I have also given you some ideas about altruism and how helping others can positively affect your own mood. Today I want to pause for a moment to reflect on authenticity. 

I am sure you have all seen people in quarantine bragging.  Posts of perfection on social media, like the new bench press PR they hit, the cool way they celebrated a birthday, or an awesome meal they made. We are all going to have moments to be proud of that we want to share, but if it is not genuine it becomes a perfectionistic self-presentation. Gordon Flett, Ph.D., describes this social media bragging as something people do because they think it will make them feel better. And it might feel good at first, but it does not help in the long run.

Perfectionists fear they will not be loved and accepted unless they perform at the highest level. They have a need to project a perfect self-image. Remember when I discussed mindset theory?  Perfectionism falls into the fixed mindset bucket: Believing your qualities are set in stone and having an urgency to prove yourself over and over.  It makes you less likely to go outside of your comfort zone for fear of failure.

Being resilient needs to start with being authentic. Overcoming hardship by definition means admitting you are facing a difficult situation and you are struggling. Train yourself to have a growth mindset so you can develop your abilities and not simply project a mirror of perfection. Everyone has perfectionistic tendencies, but it can become a problem to our mental health if we base our self-esteem on how we perform. Andrew Hill, Ph.D., suggests three ways to avoid this.

  1. Try to feel good about things you have more control over, such as being a kind person or how hard you work.

  2. Cut yourself some slack. No one is perfect. Mistakes happen. When they do, focus on the positives.

  3. Getting things done is better than getting things perfect. Try not to put things off and avoid overthinking. When it’s done, it’s done.

If you authentically achieve something you want to share, post it! However, if you know you are faking it, think again about how you want to represent yourself. And please remember, many people are having a hard time right now. If you see someone’s quarantine brag post, don’t shame them. Just hit like and move on.

Stay safe,


Dan Martin, Ph.D.
(203) 887-7454