You can admit it. You do it. We all do it. You scroll and scroll and scroll analyze and analyze until you’ve wasted 20-30 minutes on the device of your choosing. The time you spent scrolling and analyzing is followed by the inevitable. Comparison. You compare yourself and your life to those you see on social media with the question of how you measure up floating faintly in the back of your mind. And you don’t always take notes from celebrities, although many of us would be quick to take a makeup tip from Gabrielle Union’s or some fashion advice from Beyoncé—no, the people we compare ourselves to most are the people closest to us. Our friend, people we work with and folks in our circle.
As mentioned in an earlier post, social media has become more than a platform for connecting our lives with those that we love, like our friends from around the world. It’s evolved into something deeper than that and it affects our mental health in more ways than one.
Social media has morphed into a tool used to put the best picture of ourselves out there—our highlight reel—our extremist of highs. While the wins we experience are derived from massive amounts of hard work and focus, the residue of all of our wins clustered into one small Instagram page and made to appear like the picture of who we REALLY are is in many ways manufactured. It’s what we want people to see. Comparing yourself to someone else’s version of this is harmful and could be downright dangerous.
While knowing your follower’s significant milestones is a great way to keep in touch, if not consumed and digested in moderation, comparison can yield to damages to our mental stability. No matter how successful you are, online scrolling can consciously and subconsciously force you to ask yourself the question: am I doing enough? And on the flip side, that brief release of dopamine associated with the likes we receive on the gram or Facebook can lead us to a constant quest for more. So, we post more good news. We focus our cameras, snap the pic with the best angle and lighting, filter and post it up for all to admire.
If you don’t see yourself reflected in this commentary, let’s get specific. Have you seen an influx of engagement announcements on your timeline? Is everyone having children, getting married, promoted and living out major #lifegoals? Sure, they are! And it’s natural to think “but what about me,” even though your life may have seemed great five seconds before you saw the post of your friend who just passed the Bar (and believe me, you’re happy for her), a human reaction we all face is the need to share in the same sense of accomplishment. And when we simply don’t have anything that we think will garner the most likes, we feel a sense of shame…like not being able to compete.
If you feel yourself ever falling into the comparison trap, here are a few things you can ask yourself:
- Could I argue, in a court of law, that I’m really not doing anything in my life and convince a judge?
- How often are the people you compare yourself to posting?
- Am I part of the issue? Am I spending too much time on Instagram when I could really be channeling the time and energy toward accomplishing things that are meaningful to me?