You post a photo on Instagram, 15 minutes have gone by and you have only received five likes. You begin having a mental debate on whether you should keep the post up or delete it right now! “Do I not look as good as I thought? Is my caption not captivating enough? I knew I should have used that Lark filter and not Gingham. Ahh or maybe the likes aren’t coming in because it’s 2:30 on a Tuesday and everyone is at work. That must be it.”
How ridiculous is it to obsess over a photo you have shared with the world? Yet most of us have sadly been guilty offenders of having done this. What’s just as mind-boggling is that we live in a time where we have somehow convinced ourselves that our worth and character can be determined based on how others view, follow, and like us on social media outlets. These attempts to appear unflawed at all times create not only anxiety and pressure within us but also project this false reality of what life is all about. Social media portrays only a surface level view into the “good lives” people are living. It only allows for an outside glimpse of others without knowing the inner battles that they also face.
I’ll admit, I’ve had moments where it’s been challenging to see someone flaunt their model figure while chillin’ on a nice yacht in Santorini and not have it lead me to feel a type of way. As a Millennial, I have experienced numerous times where social media has influenced me to go down a road of comparison, led me to serve my ego, and steered me down a dark tunnel. Social media, comparison, and the affects of it all in relation to our well-being are common topics that get brought up between my friends and I. I’ve had numerous friends take social media breaks, some have all together deleted certain apps and their accounts, and some of us still get stuck in the dark comparison trap.
According to Psychologist Leon Festinger and the social comparison theory, humans come to know themselves by social comparison. Comparison has almost always been subconsciously influencing us as we go about living our lives. We use upward and downward comparison as a means to calculate where we stand in our skillset and capabilities. If a co-worker has a greater skillset in leadership it may motivate you to work on your own skills. If you have a friend who is struggling in some area in life, you may be able to recognize your position and help provide healthy guidance. Although comparisons have quite possibly been a constant in our lives, they shouldn’t lead to feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy. It’s time we start to question how our comparisons are affecting our health and well-being.
Studies have shown an increase in depression, anxiety, negative body image, as well as suicide rates among teenagers and young adults that could quite possibly be linked to social media usage. These statistics are disheartening, yet not surprising. In today’s world we are all easy targets. We hop on our phones and instantly have pain, fear, insecurity, and burdens directed at us from every which way. You open up Instagram and see images of beautiful, extremely filtered, and photoshopped people that contribute to this unattainable beauty standard. You sign into Facebook and each time you never fail to miss a new engagement, wedding, or pregnancy announcement. You begin to use the social comparison theory to measure where you are and may feel like you aren’t up to par. But while doing this you are failing to recognize that you are on a completely different journey than anyone else, and you are exactly where you are meant to be at this point in time.
Shifting our perspectives on comparison and the types of ways we allow comparison into our lives is crucial. You have to remember that you are in the driver’s seat for controlling comparison in your life and for how you allow yourself to react to it. The problem doesn’t necessarily just stem from the way these outlets are set up, but rather from how we choose to view and respond to them. If you are negatively affected by social media look at it as a wake-up call to work on yourself, a call for introspection. Social media is here to stay, so just as everything in the world is evolving- you must do the same.
You have to become a master of your mind and love yourself enough to recognize your potential and all of the blessings you have attracted into your life. It’s easy to fall into the social media comparison trap in an era that is media consumed, but you can choose what you look at, who you follow, what you like, and even what you choose to hide. You have to get to a place within yourself where you no longer are negatively affected by what you see, and you also must recognize the areas you may need to monitor yourself in. What are you allowing yourself to see? Why do you keep scrolling through these images of women with these unrealistic beauty standards knowing it leads to emotional pain? Why are you allowing others’ successful moments in life make you question your worth? Get to a healthy place where you can clap for the successes of others knowing it is not taking away from your value. Love yourself, appreciate all that you have as well as do not have, and allow negative comparisons to filter out from how you normally function.
Life is a temporary journey. You deserve to live life as your authentic self without allowing these insecurities and comparisons to steal the joy that the present moment has to offer. You have a lane in life that is meant solely for you. It can never be taken from you or impersonated by another. When the thief of comparison comes knocking at your soul trying to bring harm your way, don’t allow it to enter, and most definitely don’t allow it stay. Kindly allow it to exit while you remind yourself just how bada** you already are!