Online Comparison Is Your Enemy! #AAH
Have you seen those posts where people share stuff like- 10 things I learned in last 20 years or 10 points of my success. And we think wow this was so simple what’s the big deal? Why did this person become so successful just cos of these 10 points. What we are conveniently forgetting is that they may have followed that discipline for 10/20 years!
People are constantly posting photos of themselves online doing amazing things with amazing people. Whether they choose Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or all of the above, many of these individuals have become social media stars. For those of us with relatively ordinary lives, it’s easy to feel like we fall short in comparison.
It’s almost an automatic reflex to compare ourselves to those people online who we think are living more exciting lives than we are. We see them doing these seemingly fabulous activities and going to these seemingly fantastic places and we think, “Why am I not doing that? Why can’t I have that lifestyle?”
The people posting their photos online look great all the time. They never have a bad hair day or a wardrobe malfunction. Their clothes and makeup are always perfect; their activities seem incredibly fun and exciting; they’re surrounded by beautiful, fascinating-looking people. We regular folk feel inadequate in comparison.
But should we be comparing ourselves to the pictures we see online? For many of us, it’s almost impossible not to do so. But when we do compare ourselves, we feel like we could never measure up.
It’s demoralizing, as we’re convinced that we’ll never be as attractive, as well-dressed or as popular as these people appear to be. We’re certain that we’ll never be at the right place at the right time, like these internet stars always are.
But there’s something we need to remember about online images. Their only purpose is to present their subject in the best possible light. These people are posting deliberately manipulated images in order to show us a version of themselves that’s at best, highly exaggerated and at worst, utterly artificial.
The truth is that many of the people who post these perfect lifestyle and beauty shots online aren’t living their best lives or being their best selves. Most of them are carefully curating the images they present, and some are manufacturing artificial scenarios in the same way as an art director for film, TV or advertising creates an imaginary world.
Film and TV directors create images in order to tell us stories; advertisers manipulate or distort images to sell us products, and people on social media post their carefully chosen images in order to make the best possible impression.
What’s the underlying motivation for this last group? Maybe it’s the ego boost that’s supposed to come with the illusion of fame; maybe it’s the hope of getting their sites monetized; maybe it’s insecurity and an excessive need for admiration – even if this admiration is based on an illusion.
The social media pictures we see every day are so convincing that they seem authentic. We tend to believe the hype and it’s sad because we’re judging ourselves as inadequate while comparing ourselves to images that aren’t real.
Social media is a rigged game.
The internet lends itself to liars. Whether political lobbyists, advertisers or cat-fishers, too many people online are nothing like what they’re presenting. Some aren’t even people, they’re bots! The take-away message should be that just because we think something seems real online, it doesn’t mean that it is.
Comparing ourselves to others is always problematic. We habitually compare ourselves to those who appear to be better than we are and then we feel bad about ourselves. We rarely compare ourselves to those who appear to have less than we do.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to others in general, because the nature of such comparisons is to always make us feel “less than,” and this leads to unhappiness. We need to accept ourselves just as we are, right now.
We shouldn’t be trying to live up to the illusory standards of perfection we see online. We don’t need to be perfect to be happy. Happiness comes from living our best lives – not a replication of someone else’s life; it comes from being the best version of ourselves – not a carbon copy of someone else.
Choosing not to compare ourselves to others doesn’t mean that we should be complacent. It’s appropriate to be always learning, growing and changing, but we’ll be more motivated to change when we already feel good about ourselves.
Self-acceptance is more conducive to self-improvement than self-criticism is. With a positive attitude about ourselves rather than a judgmental one, we’re empowered to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.
What we shouldn’t ever do is beat ourselves up for failing to meet these false standards of perfection. Perfection is impossible and unnecessary, and the truth is that no-one who posts their pictures on social media is anywhere close to perfect.
- Unplug for a designated amount of time.
- Set time limits on your phone for social media sites.
- Suspend your social media accounts for a specific amount of time.
- Challenge a friend to unplug with you and be each other’s support.
- Keep your phone out of arm’s reach when possible.
- Turn notifications off on your social media accounts.
- Stop using your phone in bed.
- Try the 50/50 rule: No social media the last/first 50 minutes of your day.
- Get professional help if necessary.
Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Social Media Use:
- What need does my use of social media meet?
- Do I catch myself comparing myself to what I see on social media?
- How does my time on social media make me feel about myself?
- How does my time on social media make me feel about my life, family, and friends?
- Have I trained my brain to question statements and pics on social media?
- Does it bother me when a post I make doesn’t get many Likes or Shares?
- Can I recognize when I need to take a break from social media?
There is a lot for you to like and enjoy about social media—It is so important for you to stay in touch with family, friends, and co-workers who may be spread out across the country and the world. It’s cool for you to get a “peek” into the lives of some of your favorite personalities and potentially even interact with them. You can be inspired and encouraged by stories and pictures that people have shared on social media. You can spot the positives and the negatives!
Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!
ABOUT ‘AKANCHA AGAINST HARASSMENT’
‘Akancha Against Harassment’ is India’s largest social impact initiative against cyber harassment. It was founded by Miss Akancha Srivastava in February 2017. Its a not-for-profit Section 8 organization.
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