A few days ago I was scrolling through Instagram and came to a realization. I hate social media. Wait, no. I mean, I love social media. But… Ugh! Okay, maybe what I’m trying to say is social media is a double-edged sword. Although Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat are all great tools to keep up with friends, hear about the news or complain about poor customer service, it can also be detrimental to self-esteem and personal satisfaction. At least, this is true in my case. Sometimes, I wonder if I would lead a more satisfied life if I just deactivated all my social media accounts. Well… let’s not get carried away.
I first noticed this phenomenon during my junior year of college. I was having a great day, running around campus and looking forward to meeting my best friend for dinner that evening. As I was walking home from class to get ready I mindlessly clicked through Facebook. There on my newsfeed was a guy I had recently stopped dating posing with another girl. The picture, in and of itself, was nothing – just two people standing side-by-side smiling. It wasn’t clear why they were taking a picture, when the picture was taken or who took it. Unfortunately for me, the facts surrounding the photo were largely left up to my wild speculations. One could have assumed they were just friends who simply decided to take a picture. Instead, of course, I decided they were on a date, probably one of many, and that he was in love with her and had completely forgotten all about me. Overreaction? Maybe. But nevertheless my mood went from 100 to 0 in less than 30 seconds. Whatever conversations I’d planned to have with my best friend at dinner that evening were soon to be totally eclipsed by my need to talk about the picture and its meaning.
While not always this emotional, the picture is just one of the (way too many) times I’ve allowed what I’ve seen on social media to make me feel bad about my own life. The problem, though, is that we’re all guilty of purposely posting misleading photos and statuses to portray a certain image of ourselves online. If you were to take a look at my Instagram, one could surmise that I always have fun plans on the weekend. On Snapchat, you may see my coworkers and I constantly goofing off. Is this my real life? Yes. But it’s also not the entire story. For every fun weekend night out on Instagram, there’s another one spent at home sitting on my couch. There are those huge gaps of time where I’m not posting on social media because I'm consumed with work. There are the tiffs with my family, the time last week when my car broke down, or yesterday when I called my best friend to cry about a boy. That is also real life.
I find myself scrolling through my timeline and playing the comparison game: I just got back from Chicago, but she moved to New York City. I landed an incredible job, but she nabbed my dream internship. I actually love being single, but maybe their recent engagement pictures are suuuper cute. Enamored by other’s success’ I either minimize or completely forget about my own. There are no winners in the game of comparison.
I confess; I truly want to be happy when good things happen to the people I love (or even like), but all too often, I compare my life to their good fortune, and I find myself resenting them instead of celebrating with them. Wow - That hurts me to type. It’s a heart breaking reality. However, it’s so important for all of us to admit, because we are human, because there is sin, we will often fall into the trap of comparison.
Comparison is exhausting and tedious, and it always leads to some form of dissatisfaction; yet comparing ourselves to others is one of the hardest habits to break. Here's a little something that helps me when I let the comparison game consume my thoughts. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12:18-20: “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” As humans, we are multi-faceted and multi-layered. There is beauty in knowing that there is not just one mold that everyone fits into. Instead of being envious over gifts or qualities that you do not possess, learn how to appreciate your individuality. Besides, imagine how boring things would be if everyone were the same!
Photography by Morgan Leigh Photo