The more you share on social media, the more you will perhaps compare. In fact, if you’re a blogger, writer, freelancer, entrepreneur, or just simply someone who uses social media on a frequent basis, the reality is, this can either result in feeling a connection or comparisons, or a range of both.
Not all comparisons, however, are unhealthy. In fact, sometimes, viewing other people’s social media status updates can uplift, motivate and inspire us. They can give us a sense of community and belonging, and ultimately make us feel more connected.
“I love what she’s up to, it’s so inspiring” “Every time I see these photos they make me feel so good” “Wow, good for them, their business is doing really well” “That vacation destination looks stunning, I’m so motivated to go there one day”
On the other hand, social media can also take people into a deep, dark place internally resulting in feelings of “not enough”, anxiety and even depression.
“My photos need to be better” “I wasn’t invited to that event” “She lost weight, and I’m still fat” “Oh my god, that girl re-branded her website! I need to re-do mine” “I will never be able to afford those extravagant vacations” “Why is that blog making money, instead of mine ?”
When we’re bombarded daily with status updates and highlight reels, this can make people forget that behind-the-scenes everyone has their own struggles.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing on social media and updating our status with the highs.
I do feel, however, that if we could all be a bit more candid and transparent, showing some vulnerability, we could actually help the people who are struggling internally with comparisons!
For example, underneath the perfectly curated Instagram photo, a caption like, “It took forever to get this shot because I wanted it to look perfect.” feels real.
People can relate to this and it’s authentic.
The thing is… we rarely see captions like these.
I’m not saying you need to start airing out your dirty laundry on social media.
What I’m saying is; it’s o.k to share if we feel afraid. It’s o.k to ask for help. It’s o.k to update your status telling people your day was a bit rough. For god’s sake, it’s o.k to tell people you struggled to take the perfect photo!
You see, when we share these bits of truth, we show the rest of the world that we are human. We show the next generation that being brave is far more important than trying to be perfect. And, we ourselves stop the cycle of over-comparing when we simply make a conscious effort to stop trying to be perfect online and instead be more of ourselves.
Furthermore, if adults get feelings of anxiousness from comparing their lives to those they see online, then my goodness… how is a teenager feeling when they’re scrolling through their social feeds?
Recent studies have shown that comparisons are the main cause of Facebook depression; the study showed that down-comparison (comparing with inferiors) was just as likely to cause depression as up-comparison (comparing with people better than oneself).
That being said, if you begin to feel icky feelings from comparing online, I suggest taking a social media break, and even hitting the unfollow button if you must. If there’s someone your following that gives you these unhealthy comparison vibes, take a moment to evaluate where these feelings are stemming from. And remember, being social online should be good for your overall mental well-being, not the opposite!