Human beings are unique in their need and ability to communicate, to share, and bond. We see this need to express ourselves in nearly everything we do, from our work to how we spend free time. It’s no surprise that social media has become so popular. In a growing amount of people, it’s a critical part of daily life.
Social media offers benefits like fundraising and marketing, and finding like-minded people. However, the majority of people experience numerous complexes and cycles of negative thinking from falling into the social media illusion. More importantly, social media leads to many people squandering their time watching other people live their lives while wasting their own.
If you use social media casually and find yourself not even thinking about it much then this article isn’t for you. But, if you find yourself:
- Enjoying something you have less because someone else has something “better”
- Getting worked up or having your peace disturbed by what others post
- Worrying about what you’ll post on your account today
- Feeling sad and discouraged when you don’t receive a certain number of “likes” or comments
- Feeling guilty that you might not be showing authenticity with your friends/followers
- Comparing anything about your life or status to someone else
- Feeling left out
Is social media really adding to your life, or taking away from it? Let me tell you a true story:
It was a beautiful Christmas morning, family was together, and everyone had finished opening their gifts. Everyone was feeling full of gratitude and, for the time, content. It wasn’t until (let’s call her “Angie”) decided to log into her Facebook account, where she saw the gorgeous diamond ring her sister-in-law had received.
Suddenly, her Christmas didn’t seem as fulfilling. Someone else had gotten something truly special. She thought, if only her husband made more money or was more romantic, or maybe if she were loveable enough she would have received a ring too.
Angie decided to shut herself in her room and sulk, she no longer wanted to spend time with the family. She asked her husband why she didn’t get a ring, making him feel inadequate and responsible for ruining her Christmas.
The most humorous thing about this sad story, is that the ring that was given to her sister-in-law was a replacement for the ring she threw into a river two weeks prior. She had been fighting with her husband and was on the brink of divorce. But, you wouldn’t have gathered that from the daily lovey posts and facebook smiles.
Though Angie’s behavior was more dramatic than most, many would still feel a bit deflated seeing someone else receive a “grander” gift. This story demonstrates how social media can rob a person of their gratitude AND how people project a false image of their life.
The Social Media Illusion
We all know how real life is: it’s often messy, not always exciting, and full of ups and downs. Yet when people see meticulously curated photos and snapshots of mere seconds of a day, they’re so willing to believe that image and compare their life to it. Social media allows people to build an entire persona around a second of their day. Think about that.
What would your life be like if you didn’t worry about what anyone else was doing? What would you do with the time that you spent browsing social media?
Social Media magnifies our sense of “I Am” – the key to unhappiness
All these issues around the social media illusion come down to one thing – ego. The need for validation, the tendency to compare, the desire to keep up with everyone are all thanks to ego. Social media intensifies this, and those growing up on social media use its metrics (followers, comments, likes) to determine their worth.
In many ways, the platforms that are supposed to unite people often leave them feeling more isolated and lonely. Imagine walking up to a friend or acquaintance and saying “wow, it looks like you had a great time hiking last weekend, those views were amazing” and they either don’t reply or just nod to acknowledge your comment. Chances are, you would feel a bit snubbed. This happens all the time on social media. Is that the kind of connection you crave?
If you feel lost in the lives and stories of others, and the things projected on social media create feelings of unworthiness, then do yourself a favor and disconnect. Unlock your own power and walk away from the cage of comparison.