Social media is a beautiful and convenient tool that allows us to connect with millions of people around the world that we would otherwise never have the chance of knowing. It can keep us updated on the lives of friends and family that we may not see very often. It can be a very, very wonderful thing. But at the same time, it’s a platform that oftentimes encourages hurtful comparison. We scroll past peoples’ posts, seeing the smiles on their faces and the exciting places they visit. We may see posts from people we aren’t close to anymore and feel a painful sting of nostalgia, missing all the wonderful times we spent with them.
We then may wonder why our lives aren’t as exciting as those we see portrayed on the screen. Or we may feel as though our old friends are much happier and better off without us in their lives. This may very well not be the case, but it can still cause us pain. And because of this aspect of social media–this tendency to compare and create false narratives–it can prove to be devastating to our own mental health. Comparing our lives to the lives that we see through the lens of social media is not only hurtful; it is also unfair. People typically only make posts when they are doing things outside of their everyday events. When they travel. When they go to concerts or parties. It’s a misleading “highlight reel” of their lives, so to speak. It’s not always a perfectly accurate portrayal of what their lives are actually like.
But we still fall victim to comparison, despite having this subconscious awareness. It’s hard not to; I’m very guilty of it myself. Every time I log onto social media these days, it leaves me feeling less than adequate and highly discouraged about my own circumstances. Which is why I’ve decided to stay away from it. When you’re in a place where your mental health is not where it should be–or where you would like it to be–taking a step back and separating yourself from the virtual realm may prove to be highly beneficial. You won’t be constantly bombarded with posts from people you miss, or people who are doing more “exciting” things with their lives. It will give you the opportunity to self-reflect and look within, in order to determine what you can do for yourself right here and now to get where you would like to be in the future, without comparing your present situation to those of your “more ambitious” acquaintances.
So I challenge you to take at least one week away from social media. Start there, and take note of the impact it might have on your life. Perhaps as a result, you’ll decide that you’re better off without it and stay away for good. Or maybe it will merely give you a different perspective about what you see online that will help you from making these painful comparisons in the future.