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April 29, 2021

The Comparison Trap In The Age of Social Media

Technology has changed the landscape of community, connection and commerce. It’s no secret that social media has changed the way we connect with each other. We have more access than we need, more exposure to the highlight reels of people’s seemingly perfect everyday lives, and comparison is available at the touch of a button.

Somehow we have found ourselves in a cluster of should’s- how we should live, the places we should travel to, the way our bodies should look, what age we should achieve these socially-pressured milestones. The pressure to have our lives mirror that of those we see online is more prevalent then ever- comparison is at our fingertips, and if we are honest, the pressure is a lot.

Comparison is human nature, we often need a standard of measurement for ourselves- one to give us motivation. But, when does it get too much? A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with some of my friends- navigating your 20’s is tough enough, pile on a pandemic, capitalism and the worry of climate change, civil unrest and everything else in between. And then, you add social media. So many of us often feel as though we are behind- behind this, not so imaginary timeline of life events on show, or scroll. We compare our day to day experiences with someone else’s highlight reel, and the fear of missing out becomes stifling. We expect to have the house, the perfect partner, the dream career, the amazing cars, the luxury trips around the world and when life feels somewhat far from that, we belittle our progress and judge our efforts.

Social media has painted a picture of what living as a young adult should look like- and anything contrary to that is ‘behind.’ We don’t often see the hard days, the bad breakups, the daily struggles with our mental wellness, the reality of living through a pandemic that isn’t just banana bread and zoom birthdays. We don’t see the moments where you miss your loved ones so much it aches, the moments where you need a hug, and can’t have one, the days when motivation is hard to find, and all the days where you crave connection but cannot find the strength to hold another conversation via a screen. You know what else we don’t see? The fact that we are all doing the best we can, with what we have- and that deserves to be celebrated.

Comparison sneaks in when we lose sight of the truth about who we are- unique, on our own path, in our own race, pursuing life in our own lane. We need not force ourselves to conform to the ideas or displays about who we should be, what we should wear and how our lives should look. The right to determine the view of our lives, is the right that we hold for ourselves.

I think social media is an incredible tool to help us share our own unique stories and life’s art- and that’s all it should be- a tool. Not a standard, not a dictator, not a weight that burdens us; when we find ourselves seeing it beyond an opportunity to connect and share, and instead a ruler of measurement of our success and happiness, please remember that it is okay to log off, to delete the apps that cause you to question your value, and to unfollow the journeys that make you undervalue your own.

The right to define and design your life is a right that sits only with you- and no app should be given such power over you.