At its core, social media’s sole purpose is to allow people to connect, share and exchange information with one another online. Scrolling through your newsfeed, you’ll likely see a mix of engagement announcements, babies, political rants, drunken nights, and vacation selfies. But on days we feel insecure, social media can have the opposite effect. Instead of bringing people together to share in an experience, social media can make you feel excluded.
Why can’t I afford a getaway? Why am I still single? Why is the world a terrible place?
Sometimes I think that we all need to take a step back and remember why social media exists. I don’t mean that we need to change the things that we post. I simply mean that we need to take a moment to remember why other people post the things that they do – and why we do the same. After all, what was your last Facebook post? Why did you post it?
As important as social media has become in the eyes of millennials, it’s easy to get caught up in the façade. So often we forget that what we see on social media is not a true reflection of reality. Before you curl up in the fetal position and suffer from a case of social media anxiety, here are a few things you need to remember.
1. People are more likely to post about the good times.
Sure, you’ll always get someone who makes a few emo posts when they go through a tough time. But the majority of social media posts are people highlighting the best parts of their day. Remember that these posts are often an isolated and exaggerated version of reality.
That college graduation post doesn’t fully acknowledge the stressful, sleepless nights. That post-5k selfie doesn’t highlight the legitimate hard work someone had to put in to get there. That Instagram of your co-worker’s bar night might look like a blast, but you don’t see the drama that ensued after the shot was taken.
We post snippets of success on social media, but tend to ignore the parts that fall in between. Your Facebook friends are not super-human. Keep this in mind when you’re scrolling through your newsfeed.
2. Your success is not dependent on another’s.
Social media makes it easier than ever before for us to compare ourselves to others. Scrolling through a newsfeed full of engagement photos and cheesy “I love my boyfriend” posts can hurt if you just went through a breakup. Just as a post about someone finally getting their dream job can make someone struggling with unemployment feel insecure.
Instead of being cynical and spiteful (yes, I know that can be hard), try to remember that their happiness (whether it’s real or not) has nothing to do with your own. Their relationship success has nothing to do with your failed one and someone else’s career path is likely not the career path that will be right for you. Never let someone else’s perceived happiness get in the way of your own.
3. Political rants are not a direct attack on your character.
Social media platforms are a place to voice opinions. This means that from time to time (usually around election season), people will post long rants about their political views on Facebook. This is frustrating for everyone – the person posting the status, the people commenting, and those who stumble upon the unhappy argument in their newsfeed.
If you are posting your opinion on Facebook, know that you’re probably going to get some negative feedback. If you disagree (or agree) with someone’s political post, remember that it’s not your job to change their opinion. If you come across an argument on Facebook and you have no idea what’s going on, it’s ok to ignore it. While you should try to understand what is going on in the world to better yourself and the world around you, Facebook should probably not be your source of information.
You don’t need to share everyone’s opinion, but you also shouldn’t take it personally.
4. You’ll be happier if you focus on your own life.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. Be strong, stand up for yourself, and figure out what it is you want to achieve in life. Never compare your bad day to someone else’s best. Sometimes it’s ok to be selfish and focus on yourself – and you’ll be happier for it!
Social media makes it so easy to compare ourselves to others. But it’s SO important to remember that we each live our own lives. What is right for someone else may not be right for you. You’ll live a happier life knowing that you are taking your own path and not falling behind someone else’s perceived path. Enjoy sharing your experiences on Facebook and sharing your positive moments with friends and family, but never let someone else’s post ruin your day. Remember, it’s just social media.