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Unfair Comparisons: The Social Connection

Hannah noticed her teenage daughter seemed sad one day. When she asked about it, her daughter shared that she’d been on social media. All of her friends were taking lavish spring break vacations and having plenty of fun while she was stuck at home.

After listening, Hannah opened the Facebook app on her phone. She pulled up her best friend’s profile and handed the device to her daughter. “Look through her first ten photos and write down what you see on a notepad.”

Her daughter rolled her eyes but did as she was asked. When she was done, her short list read like this: Victoria is pretty, thin, has a cute boyfriend, and a good job. She’s a big fan of the Steelers and she loves rock climbing.

Hannah tapped the list, “Victoria was homeless for a few months as a kid. In college, she was diagnosed with a serious digestive disease. She battled an addiction to painkillers following her last surgery. She just got out of rehab last year. But you can’t see all of that just by looking at her photos. On the outside, her life looks perfect.”

Look Beyond the Selfie

It doesn’t matter how old you are. On social media, it’s tempting to think that what you see is the whole story. But it’s important to remember that most social users are presenting a curated look at their life.

It’s not that people on social media sites are trying to be deceptive. It’s just that many people document their happy moments. This includes things like vacations, pregnancy news, graduation ceremonies, and weddings.

Why Social Media Can Make You Feel Bad

The downside to all of this positivity is that it can leave you feeling like you’re lacking in some ways. You might look at a picture of someone else’s family where everyone is smiling and think that your friend has a wonderful life.

But what she won’t share are the unsupportive remarks her husband makes about her online business. She doesn’t post about her son’s struggle with a learning disability or talk about her daughter’s crippling depression.

A post talking more about social media

How Social Media Affects You

Frequently comparing your life to the lives of others on social media can lead to anxiety and depression. You may find yourself asking yourself questions like, “What if I’m not as popular as her? What if no one likes my selfie? Does that mean I’m ugly? My life isn’t as pretty as hers!”

Ironically, spending more time on social media means you have fewer conversations in real life. This can worsen anxiety and depression, creating an unhealthy cycle that leaves you unhappy and isolated.

The good news is that you don’t have to stay stuck in comparison mode. You can disconnect from social media when you notice that you’re feeling bad about yourself or your life. The more you do this, the easier it will become to break social media’s effect on your outlook.

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