How many of us are guilty of getting onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social network to only say “I wish my life was as fun/successful/happy as (insert person)”. It’s in our nature to benchmark ourselves on our progress in comparison to others because we’ve had it done to us all our lives!
What is Social Comparison?
Social comparison theory states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of domains (for example, attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success).
As a baby you were measured, weighed and tested as soon as you popped out of the womb to see how healthy you were using the data precedent by the billions of other babies before yourself.
As a child you were placed in classes according to your intellectual prowess. Were you smart enough to make it into the Opportunity Classes for gifted primary school kids? What about the Selective High Schools? Your ranking in the University Entrance Exams?
Even as an adult we are compared to our colleagues who may be more gifted in public speaking and other skills which will determine the differences in theirs and your salary at the company.
We are compared enough by others as it is. Why is it that we should compare ourselves to others on social media too?
What things do we compare ourselves with on social media?
From clear statistics we compare the number of:
- Photos on the popular pages
From the content and image we compare:
- Clothing and accessories
- Attractiveness and fitness
- Types of food we are eating whether fine dining, gourmet or the mainstream organic/non-GMO/superfood/juice detox (you heard me)
- Types of activities we are doing such as working out, extreme sports, travelling or other ‘cool’ things
- Whom and the amount of people we are ‘hanging out’ with and their popularity
- Even the skill and types of cameras we use to take our photos as well
There’s a lot of things you can be envious of but unless you making a living depends on these virtual measurements, it really shouldn’t matter too much to you at all (or so we should try to tell ourselves).
When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.
Let me tell you why you shouldn’t compare yourself to those on social media!
Do you really think all those people who you both know and don’t know personally on social media are doing those fun things they say they are?
I’m not talking about the ones whose lives are really like their online one because they are justified as they are only portraying what goes on in their real life. You’re safe popular and rich people.
I’m talking about people who brag about their ‘riches’ and blatantly put themselves above others, people who pretend to be amazing successes, those who brag about things in images that they had to steal from others and my personal favourite, the ones who know exactly how people react on social media and show us how easy it is to create a fake life online.
Basically, you can post about all the rich, lavish, happy things that you don’t even have and others might believe you. These photo ‘memories’ have been rose-tinted by pretty filters, a little photoshop, a 1:1 picture ratio, fake props and probably even taken ages ago or not by that person at all!
So if you’re still getting bitter over those holiday posts in Vanuatu from an old work colleague about a dreamy guy she supposedly met over there, what you’re really doing is comparing yourself to a fictional character (with varying degrees of fakeness).
Should you say “I wish my life was as fun/successful/happy as (insert person)”? What is outside those lavish posts on your device’s screen that others have ‘image managed’?
You shouldn’t really be jealous of a persona that you aren’t even sure is real. Most likely, if the real person behind that fake persona knew how you lived then they’d be the one thinking you’re more fun/successful/happy. 🙂
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