Keeping up with strangers

DSP

Heri
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Keeping Up With Strangers: Social Media and The Comparison Trap
June 18th, 2012 - By Alissa Henry




Source: kasitimes.co.za


Sometimes, I wonder if I would lead a much more satisfied life if I deactivated my social media accounts — Twitter and Facebook especially.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. What I don’t love is the power it can wield over my mood when I least expect it.

I first noticed this phenomena during my Senior year of college. I was having a great day, rushing through classes and looking forward to meeting my best friend for lunch. I stopped by the school library to print off a term paper and mindlessly clicked through Facebook. There on my newsfeed was an old classmate posing in a picture with a guy I had recently stopped dating. I could tell from the background that they were at a popular mall in my hometown and I was absolutely devastated. The picture was nothing in and of itself – 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. Obviously, I could have assumed they were old friends who bumped into each other at the mall and decided to take a picture. Instead, I decided they were on a date, probably one of many, and that he was in love with her and not thinking about me anymore. My mood went from 100 to 0 in about 45 seconds and whatever conversations I’d planned to have with my best friend at lunch that day were totally eclipsed by my need to talk about the picture and figure out what it meant.

Another (decidedly less emotional) instance happened only a few months ago. I had just run four miles straight – my longest distance ever. Breathless and excited, I shared my feat with my Twitterfollowers. As soon as I pressed send, I scrolled through my Timeline and came across another Tweeps status announcing: “Just ran 10 miles. Easy Saturday” and my entire countenance fell.

Those instances are only two of the (way too many) times I’ve allowed what I read on socialmedia to make me feel bad about my own life. Enamored by other’s success and blessings, I either minimize or completely forget about my own.

Twitter and Facebook are great tools to keep up with friends, hear about the news, complain about poor customer service and talk to the occasional celebrity who tweets or Facebooks back, but it can also be detrimental to self-esteem and personal satisfaction. At least, this is true in my case. Some days, I find myself scrolling through my Timeline or looking at my Facebook newsfeed and playing the comparison game: I just got married, but she passed the bar; or she got a promotion at work, but I lost ten pounds; or I got an iPhone but he got an iPad, the list goes on and on. Of course, there are no winners in the comparison game. The only result is to be repulsively bitter or impossibly vain…or both at the same time. Still, it is a constant struggle to keep from playing this lose-lose game.

The thing is, Facebook and Twitter are basically platforms for everyone you care about (and don’t care about) to broadcast their lives. And, besides those people who don’t seem to have a single good thing to say about themselves, most people only announce the positive. The amount of grandstanding on these sites is incredible. Everyone does it though, including me. I get annoyed by all the “I just got my Master’s/JD/Doctorate!!!” shrill graduation posts, but have no problem tweeting about having #TheBestHusbandEver. I don’t Tweet or Facebook to promote envy in anyone else, but it can be hard for me not to let other’s posts promote envy in me…even when (especially when) I don’t know the Facebook friends or Twitter followers in real life.

I think the key to not letting social media get the best of me is to use it in moderation. When I do use it, I need to practice self-awareness and resist viewing everyone as some sort of competitor in the “Who’s Happier, More Accomplished, and More Likely to Succeed in Life” contest. Just as I know that I tend to post positive things and glaze over the negative, others tend to do the same thing and just because someone is having a great day doesn’t mean I’m having a horrible life. Further, I’ve found that if I am focusing on the things in my life that I want to improve and taking the necessary steps to improve them, then I will be less inclined (and have less time) to look around on social media to see what everyone else is doing.

What do you think? Do you compare your life to those you follow on Twitter or friend on Facebook?

Alissa Henry is a freelance writer living in Columbus, OH. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaInPink
 
B

Black Madonna

Guest
Das, that is some serious shit.. FB is helluva thing and the energies people put into how they manage their pages are phenomenal. People are very calculated with what and how they post and build their pages. I didnt realize how bad it was until some friends told me what they do with their pages and such.
 

DSP

Heri
lol I'm too paranoid to post alot of personal stuff(didn't even use the govt registered name.... it's dry and boring) and activities but it's wild to hear about how far people go.

From what I hear alot of people go as far as lying to compete.
 
B

Black Madonna

Guest
lol I'm too paranoid to post alot of personal stuff(didn't even use the govt registered name.... it's dry and boring) and activities but it's wild to hear about how far people go.

From what I hear alot of people go as far as lying to compete.
I can see that. photoshopped pics of what you look like and where you've been. but I guess if not for FB they would be like that in real life. people who only post pics of them traveling and partying to come across as having a fabulous life. that kind of stuff
 

ladyrastafari

Notchilous
hmmm she have problems.. but i dont use my FB to compare myself to anybody cos i rarely do that in real life.. so i dunno.. I use my FB as a platform to share and peruse interesting stuff, chat with friends, etc... i like the posts that the majority of my friends post, lil tidbits of info about different places... food, etc etc... i rarely post personal stuff like that.. i do see some serious oversharing by other people and nuff gas ups on some people pages/pictures.. so i highly doubt fb going to affect my mood..
 

TC

Steuuuupssss!
She sounds like she has emotional problems and like if she needs to get off the computer and sort herself out!
 
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AFTrini

Registered User
I don't have FB or any of dem ting but this seems like old problems that are being blamed on new media. Would she have felt any different if she heard about her ex or saw a picture in some other way? I don't think so. She could get rid of FB or throw the whole damn computer in the trash and she will still have these issues. She needs to seek counseling. Unfortunately she can't see that she already has the answer to her issues.

When I do use it, I need to practice self-awareness and resist viewing everyone as some sort of competitor in the “Who’s Happier, More Accomplished, and More Likely to Succeed in Life” contest.
 

DSP

Heri
There was another article a few months ago talking about people with this same problem and advising people who get caught up in comparisons to spend less time on facebook.
 

LB

Peace Love n Pretty Tings
There was another article a few months ago talking about people with this same problem and advising people who get caught up in comparisons to spend less time on facebook.
look. The whole "keeping up with the Jones" mentality has been around since the beginning of time. Facebook is just the modern version of the same principle at work between humans. It isnt that special in that regard other than the immediacy it provides.

in our parents day, who had what car in the driveway when the neightbor pulled into his, would cause the same amount of angst. To whose stay-at-home wife had the designer label...to which school in the neighborhood their kids went to and on and on and on.

So short of locking yourself off from humanity this chick above and those who get caught up in that kinda thing, are always gonna feel tortured by their own comparison to other people in some way.
 

DSP

Heri
look. The whole "keeping up with the Jones" mentality has been around since the beginning of time. Facebook is just the modern version of the same principle at work between humans. It isnt that special in that regard other than the immediacy it provides.

in our parents day, who had what car in the driveway when the neightbor pulled into his, would cause the same amount of angst. To whose stay-at-home wife had the designer label...to which school in the neighborhood their kids went to and on and on and on.

So short of locking yourself off from humanity this chick above and those who get caught up in that kinda thing, are always gonna feel tortured by their own comparison to other people in some way.
After reading the 1st word it's like I could hear you say all this audibly lol
 
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