Death by Comparison and Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Life 

I still have Twitter. I still use Twitter. I can’t stop using Twitter. It’s one of the cruelest places you can exist on the internet. It’s a place where everyone is trying to be funny and no one is above punching up down or sideways. If you have an opinion there is some there to tell you it is wrong.

I am luckily not funny enough to have a large following and not controversial enough to be trolled daily (have been trolled before, feels bad) 

The trouble I run into on Twitter are the innocuous ‘I have some news’ tweets. The ones where people humblebrag about their good news. Although intentions aren’t nefarious and these people should be sharing their amazing news, one can’t help but feel alienated by a stranger’s success. I read a tweet the other day that said ‘Baby’s first magazine cover!’ and thought to myself ‘Damn, I haven’t reached that milestone yet.” Like what? As if that is a totally normal milestone most people achieve?

I quit Instagram for many reasons- it made me shop, it made me stare at photoshopped images of perfect women, it made me feel like my life just wasn’t worthy enough. This is a trend. 

‘Empirical evidence has been found regarding the positive relationship between social media use and social comparison. For instance, de Vries and Kühne (2015) conducted a survey study among young adults in the Netherlands, and demonstrated that higher intensity of Facebook use was associated with more social comparison. A similar relationship was also found in a study of Instagram, demonstrating that social media can predict individual differences in social comparison orientation and behavior (Stapleton et al., 2017). A systematic review of social media use in health care showed that patients use social media to compare themselves with other patients to find out how “bad” their health conditions are and how well the treatments work (Smailhodzic et al., 2016).’ – The Effects of Instagram Use, Social Comparison, and Self-Esteem on Social Anxiety: A Survey Study in Singapore

“If Facebook demonstrates that everyone is boring and Twitter proves that everyone is awful, Instagram makes you worry that everyone is perfect — except you.” – Alex Hern, The Guardian 

Self comparison is bad for a lot of reasons- it doesn’t actually help you achieve more, it ruins your sense of self and you’re usually using inaccurate information (edited selfies, celebratory tweets that don’t mention the 10 years of failure prior)

It’s hard to feel motivated in a Pandemic and it’s even harder to feel satisfied. Other people’s lives seem so together. Other people seem to be handling things properly.

I have found that self comparison stops tenfold when I’m away from social media. When I spend time with people I am not on my phone. I stay away from Twitter and the time away is a welcome reprieve. The smartest people I know do not use that site. When you aren’t inundated with what everyone else is doing, it’s incredible how fast your own self esteem starts to heal. When you look at your life it doesn’t seem quite so inadequate. 

Is it weak to admit that you’re vulnerable to these little deaths by comparison? Maybe yes. But maybe there is some strength in knowing what you need to fix and setting to work to fix it. Social media isn’t going anywhere. People have whole careers on these platforms. You can either take part and feel bad or disassociate and step back. I am always for healthy social media breaks and for testing my own mettle to see what I am capable of. What little challenges I can overcome and I often surprise myself. 

I’ve never read an article or watched a video where a person takes a social media break and doesn’t feel better at the end of it. Have you? 

We aren’t supposed to be privy to this many people’s thoughts and opinions. We aren’t supposed to be this influenced by this many strangers. 

So I invite you to take a break. I am going to be. I use Twitter every single day and it’s the first thing I do when I wake up. This cannot be healthy. I am going to take a break from Twitter and from being influenced by other people.

Shifting the focus back to you and your life. 

Here are the things I’ll be doing instead. 

Working out

When I’m sad I workout about it. It takes time and energy and you only leave it feeling good. 

Reading News Not on The App

I caved and got a subscription to the New York Times. I read once that the NYT has a higher reading level than most other print journalism so maybe this will make me smarter too? 

Hikes in The Woods

In Toronto the weather is getting warmer and a podcast on my hike in the woods is one of the best feelings. Have you listened to Con Queen? It’s on spotify. Absolutely fascinating stuff. 

Getting a Job

LOL the time has come to get some little email job to occupy my brain and hands with so I don’t just think and consume social media all day. 

Movie Watching 

I just watched Jackie Brown for the first time the other day and wow. It feels shameful to have lived 33 years without seeing it. 

Stretching

If I spent as much time stretching as I do reading tweets about Donald Trump I would be a bendy beautiful goddess. Stretching feels good. 

Learning about Money 

I am a GIRLBOSS who is in Ketosis and DEBT. Time to get my act together. Time to understand what in god’s name a mutual fund is.

Seeing Friends 

This is the number one best way to feel good about life. To get off that damn phone and remember why you’re alive. Hangout with the friends who see you for you and love you for it. Listen to their jokes and their accomplishments and feel yourself feel happy for them. It helps.

Practicing Gratitude

Are you warm right now? Have you had any coffee? Try to remember how insanely lucky you are for the life you do have even if you don’t have a massive Kim Kardashian dump truck ass.

Life is hard enough, let us take a break from the things that make it even worse.

What are some of your tips for dealing with social comparison? Let me know below.

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