HAVE you scrolled through your newsfeed on Facebook lately and felt worse for it? I bet you have.
And in most cases, I bet you have been more affected by those people who you perceive to be similar to you, like your mates, or even celebrities who are the same age.
You don’t get too perturbed about what your family members are up to, but those photos of your friend having a fab time with her new hot partner, or the friend out on the town, well, that stuff gets to you.
Millions of us on a daily basis are engaging with Facebook and making judgements about the quality of our own lives. Comparing. Comparing ourselves with other people, and lowering our self worth in the process.
We don’t just do it with social media either. We do it all the time. Looking at the people around us and judging whether we stack up next to them. We are doing it when we read magazines, we do it in the office and we were doing it back in school.
It’s just that with social media, comparing ourselves can be done on a bigger scale. Because that’s where we spend a lot of our time. Social comparison theory states that we determine our own self worth based on how we compare against others.
We spend a lot of our day sizing ourselves up with other people based on wealth, attractiveness and success. For most of us, this leaves us feeling unexcited about ourselves and our own lives.
There are two kinds of social comparison, upward and downward. Upward social comparison, is when we compare ourselves with those who we believe are better than us.
So, you may have some self-talk like “…that person is hotter than me, that person has a better car than I do or that person has an awesome boyfriend and I can’t flipping find anyone”. Or, “why does everyone else on Earth seem to be having a good time except for me?”
This sort of comparison lowers our own value. Downward social comparison is when we compare ourselves with those who we believe are not doing as good as us. This may make us feel better in some way about our lives, but it is more of a smug feeling. Which is not that great either. It is not a good-natured quality to have when you feel good about someone else’s misfortune.
So comparing ourselves socially doesn’t really gain us anything. Humans natural compare themselves to each other. That’s what we do. But here’s the thing. Comparing ourselves against each other is not valid.
There are too many different variables to take into account, which quite frankly, renders us incomparable. And you are often comparing yourself against your perception, which doesn’t equal reality.
The photo you see of a friend on Facebook is not the video reel of their whole life. It isn’t an accurate portrayal of what’s going on for them, and often you know it. Just because they’re having a great time in one photo, doesn’t mean they are having a great time in the others.
In fact, when they’re not having a great time, they’re not taking photos at all, never mind posting them online.
The same way you don’t. Stop comparing yourself to others. Start by managing your social comparisons, and notice the way you’re feeling when you’re dealing with other people. Make every effort to avoid comparing yourself to your friends.
If comparing is inspiring you to be a better you and you feel good for it, then that’s fine. If you are not, then don’t buy into it. If you find yourself using social media for comparing rather than connecting, then maybe you need to take a break from it, which in itself can make you feel better.
Then spend more time focused on becoming a better version of yourself. This will benefit you more. Because no one compares to you.