Commentary – Those unhelpful social comparisons

Callie Hermanson

We all have certain triggers that can cause our confidence to take a sudden decline.

For some, it’s a trip to the gym.

If you’re self-conscious of your body, watching fit people strut their stuff in their tightest fitting gym clothes likely has you over-analyzing your every body part.

For others, it may be a certain individual—a family member, friend, or enemy that, for whatever reason, leaves them with the dreaded feeling that they just aren’t enough.

We all know the gut-wrenching feeling that grows when we see or hear something that immediately has us second-guessing our appearance, personality, or skill set.

Unfortunately, social media provides us with numerous platforms that help to quickly trigger that unpleasant feeling of unworthiness.

Facebook recently reminded me of just how much powerful it has over my confidence.

I found myself comparing all aspects of my life, both mentally and physically, to a person I had never met. She was a stranger, and yet somehow, her profile page caused me to question my accomplishments, appearance, and even personality traits.

I didn’t realize just how illogical this was until I explained it to someone, and, now as I type, I’m reminded even further.

Regardless of how illogical these comparisons may be, our emotional responses to those kinds of images can be so strong that they completely overpower us.

The reality is, people are constantly showcasing the best aspects of their life onto social media.

The arrival of a new baby and a recent trip to somewhere warm are both ideal picture-posting occasions.

But do these same people post photos of 2:00 a.m. feedings, or lost luggage? Not often, because that wouldn’t show them in an ideal light; but it would provide a sense of reality.

Reality is what is lost on social media. We emphasize the best versions of ourselves instead of the real versions.

Life can be hard, ugly, and downright depressing at times. But those likely aren’t the adjectives most of us would use to describe the photos we post onto our accounts.

The feeling of lack and dissatisfaction that we feel when scrolling through our newsfeed often results from comparing our true reality to our ‘friends’ idealized, perfectly Instagrammed realities.

We are using the same scale to measure two entirely different realities.

However, we fail to step back and recognize just how wildly unfair and unrealistic these comparisons actually are.

So how can we stop ourselves from making them?

Reduce our time on social media. Redirect our focus onto the things that really matter. Assess where those negative comparisons are coming from, put a higher value on my relationships, value my time more, do more of what I love, eat well and move.

So, next time you make an unfair comparison, instead of allowing it to make you feel poorly about yourself, view it as an opportunity for a little self-evaluation.

Ultimately, social comparisons aren’t suggestive of what others have that you don’t, but rather what you already have but aren’t quite aware of yet.


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