“I’m a father of six girls so I have witnessed first hand young women take 30 photos to find one they like best. We have heard this line a lot–we see a highlight reel when we look at someone’s Facebook or Instagram, so we’re not seeing the other 29 images that didn’t make the cut, that were almost identical, but there may have been a little crease or wrinkle, or a hair out of place. Our children, and our moms and our aunts, and even the blokes, we use social media to compare. Research shows that social comparison is the best way to damage your self-esteem. The more you stare and compare, the worst you’ll feel about yourself.”
– Dr. Justin Coulson
Dr. Coulson is an international speaker/author and one of Australia’s leading parenting experts. As you can see from the statement above, he is no stranger to the effects of social media and how it tends to make us all the more self conscious…as if we needed any more reasons to feel less secure about ourselves.
I can count on numerous occasions how many times I’ve fallen victim to comparing the life of my peers online to my own. Yes, I was a “social media junkie” and Twitter happened to be my go to. Oftentimes, I would find myself feeling as if there was more that I needed to be doing based on what the people that I followed were displaying on their own profiles. Seeing others who are in the same peer group seeming to accomplish really important things while you’re sitting like a lump on a log at home can be pretty discouraging and even lead you to believe that your life actually sucks. Which is obviously far from the truth. According to Sasha, a 16-year-old junior in high school, on social media, “everyone looks like they’re having the best day ever, all the time.” Which is obviously far from the truth.
Aside from users projecting a false reality online, I immediately noticed the effects that it had on the expectations that others placed on their relationships because of social media. Amanda Jane Sankey, a student attending Western Kentucky University, says “If you take a minute and look through Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, you can find paragraphs after paragraphs about the kind of boyfriend (or girlfriend) you “deserve.” Many online users of social media outlets take these “relationship affirmations” seriously which in turn causes a great deal of turmoil between themselves and their partner. Of course, not everyone who comes in contact with this sort of information falls prey to the #relationshipgoals hashtag, however, constant exposure does begin to permeate the subconscious mind.
Relationship goals lead to idolatry, envy, and ultimately, destruction altogether. You find yourself comparing your own partnership with some stranger’s online that you don’t even really know. And no, having access to their lives via Twitter or Instagram does not count for knowing who these people truly are. Unless you are physically around the couple for a significant amount of time, you will never honestly know what their partnership entails. #Facts.
So how do we combat this dilemma? How do we do damage control after the damage has already taken place? I can give you my personal fix or you can choose to follow your own based on the needs and wants in your life. For starters, I resorted to cutting out all forms of social media except for the ones that did not directly contribute to an emotional downward spiral such as YouTube. I deactivated my Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Tumblr (for a while) until I was able to regain control over my own self perception and actually focus on some significant goals that I had been putting off due to consistent procrastination and distractions on social media networks.
After a couple of weeks off-the-grid and out of the matrix, I felt more at peace and I began to realize again just how much we are all dealing with similar, if not identical, struggles in our day to day lives. No one is exempt from sadness, pain, depression, hardship, or any other negative experience while residing on this lovely planet that we call Earth.
And don’t get me wrong, I do understand that for some people, social media is their sole way of making money and building up their business brands which I am not totally against. I feel that when utilized effectively, social media can be a great business, marketing, and network tool, but even CEOs go on social media hiatuses for weeks to a month. Overall, be sure that you are attentive to your own mental and emotional health. You know what you need to be successful more than anyone else. It is already within you.
Allowing the perceived happiness of someone else’s life online will inevitably destroy the amount of self-confidence that you do possess. You do not need social media to validate you for being an awesome human being. You just are.