Social Comparison on Social Media

If someone told me 10 years ago that I would be married by now with a child, I would have laughed at them and thought they were insane. I never imagined myself to be where I am now but despite my highlight reel, I do not make a point to brag about it on Facebook and other forms of social media. I am one who despises when other people brag about how great their lives are and it would be hypocritical of me to do the same.

That’s great your career is going well and you just bought a house with your boyfriend. That’s great you just got a promotion. That’s great you had a wedding that I wasn’t invited to. That’s great you have a lovely family and a million siblings – I wonder what that’s like! That’s great you post a gazillion photos of your amazing life every day. That’s great you are pregnant and a couple years from now you’ll be pregnant again. Since I cannot get away from these announcements, I cut myself off of social media. Please tell me in person so I’ll actually care in a genuine way. The last place I want to find out is on Facebook, where I feel pressured to conform and congratulate you in the most shallow way possible.

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“Being different isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you are brave enough to be yourself.” -unknown

Now, I know that we all have problems but we seldom hear about the bad things in life. I much rather hear about someone’s struggles than see a constant highlight reel of someone’s life. My parents have instilled in me to only post the good things because otherwise, people would know me on a deeper level. Go figure! Isn’t that the point? To connect with people on a meaningful level? Let’s face it, shallow isn’t a meaningful level. If I cannot post freely, then I rather not post at all. I hope that my family doesn’t find this blog because the moment they do I will be getting an earful of lectures. Once my mother found my Instagram I stopped posting because of her criticisms. My parents find ways to creep my Facebook so I stopped posting there as well. My second “private” account is not so private if my real name is searched. Now, how did that happen?? I honestly question the Facebook privacy settings.

My husband strongly discourages social comparison but he doesn’t understand it the same way I do. He didn’t struggle with life the same way I did and he doesn’t suffer from depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation. For me, social media brings out feelings of jealousy so I am better off being ignorant to the newsfeed. He says that I attract certain people and in a way he is right. I seem to resonate better with unhappy people in general: the high school drop-outs, low-class people from dysfunctional families, unhealthy people with medical conditions, pessimistic people who see the glass half empty etc. In a way, I want to help them, and perhaps I feel sorry for them. It’s hard for me to resonate with people who are exactly like me.

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Husband with our sweet baby girl.

These people, in contrast, trigger my anxiety and depression. I am not only comparing myself to successful people but when my life is at a standstill I am even more prone to self-loathing. I have a strong, innate desire to be successful and exceed people’s expectations and with that comes dissatisfaction and feelings of unworthiness.

From a distance, someone may think that I have a good life, and maybe I do but its hard for me to see it. I cannot understand why ANYONE would be jealous of me. I have A LOT of struggles but they hardly see this side of me. I occasionally use a private forum on my phone for well-being, logging and calendar charting. I like the anonymity of the social feature but it also saddens me since I will never truly get to know these ladies beyond a phone screen. The relationships are shallow and just as quickly as we became forum friends, one can easily hit the “unfollow” button which I am equally guilty of doing. It’s not that I have anything against these ladies (unless they are rude and end up on the blocked list). However, if you fill my home page with bragger-y, TMI posts, pregnancy announcements, big accomplishments that crave praise etc. I need to protect my sanity (aka. my inner child, the identity I actually resonate with). I hope you understand that my well-being is a delicate vessel that needs nurturing which only I can nurture. My inner child does not receive proper nourishment from validation, likes and praise on social media and yours shouldn’t either. That would be similar to feeding my inner child candy bars, chips, and soda. I need REAL nourishment and that satiation can only come from within.

 

 

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