You’re sitting around in your room one weekend, bored out of your mind or just procrastinating. You turn to your social media feed and then it happens. This girl you went to camp with six summers ago is sipping piña coladas out of real pineapples on some beach in Barbados; the guy who used to pick on you in high school is posing with Drake, whose album he just produced; your best friend just passed the bar exam—and you’re jealous out of your mind. How is it that everyone is more successful than you?
Let me break it to you: They’re not. You’ve just fallen victim to one of the worst traps of social media—comparing yourself to people who don’t really exist. I’m not saying that lawyers don’t drink fruity cocktails with Drake or that your Facebook friends are chronic mythomaniacs, but you have to start seriously looking at the way you portray yourself online before you drop out of school/quit your job/fall into a deep, dark, hashtag-induced depression.
Look, what was the last Instagram pic you posted? Was it the cronut and cashew milk latte you got at that new hipster hangout in town? Or was it a shot of your pizza-stained pajamas against a backdrop of 16 and Pregnant reruns? While I endorse both of these scenarios as extremely solid life decisions—let’s be real—it was probably the cronut and latte, Valencia-filtered to the point of artistry. So if you’re still comparing yourself to what people choose to show you, here’s your reality check. You’re welcome.
1. People filter out the ordinary things they do.
Do you ever see people posting about the Cup of Noodles they just microwaved or the way they made their bed today? Nope, and it’s not difficult to see why. We post about things that will interest people and, granted, that we think will make them jealous. We have a tendency to forget this when scrolling through our feed, which causes us to think that all of our Facebook friends lead picture-perfect lives, when really they are just like us.
2. Nobody has it easy.
So maybe some of your contacts do really awesome things, but in no way does this mean that their lives are perfect! Who knows? The girl in Barbados could be recovering from surgery, while the music producer just got out of a bad breakup and the lawyer is drowning in student loans. Although you probably shouldn’t be wishing bad things on your acquaintances, putting things into perspective might inspire you to hit the “Like” button and be on your merry way.
3. They can’t be having such an incredible time if they feel the need to broadcast it.
This goes back to not wishing bad things on people, but realistically, do you remember the last time you had pure, unadulterated fun? Was your first instinct to put it online? Thought not. I don’t know about you, but I take pictures at parties where I don’t know anyone and I can’t go on a hike without hoping I’ll get to capture the Insta-worthiness of my life. My point is: You don’t have to actually be having fun to look like you are on social media.
4. You have a wonderful life (and you know it, too).
Surely you can’t let other people (on social media or otherwise) set the standard for your life, am I right? How about focusing on all the completely amazing things you are and do instead? You know, all those things that you were completely aware of before you embarked on your scrolling frenzy? Then who cares if you’re having a lazy weekend? You deserve it after the week you’ve had—after all, being awesome is exhausting.
5. It’s a waste of time.
Think of all the time you’ve spent scrolling through useless information, singling out the precise content that is most likely to make you feel miserable. These are hours upon hours when you could have been working your way through your reading list, taking a belly-dancing class or perfecting your underwater basket-weaving skills, hours lost on the expertly fabricated lives of a handful of self-publicists whom you barely know (and probably don’t like anyway). I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s just something to consider next time you catch yourself essentially making your life much harder than it needs to be.
We’re not purging ourselves of social media any time soon, so it’s worth attempting to minimize its harmful effects. For your own sake, stop comparing yourself to your imaginary friends, because that’s just sad on multiple levels and because you’re better than that…you gem, you.