How many times have you been on Facebook, just to check in with your friends and family, and ended up logging out feeling lonely and depressed?Have you ever checked Facebook feeling relatively good about your day and ended your session feeling like a complete failure? I sure have.
Turns out, I’m not alone. The New Yorker recently posted an article outlining the ups and downs of Facebook. A review of several studies showed that the “more time people spent browsing the site, as opposed to actively creating content and engaging with it, the more envious they felt.” This envy stems from a phenomenon called social comparison.
There’s a popular meme going around on the web with the Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Perhaps it’s popular because we need to keep reminding ourselves. Other’s accomplishments are not a reflection on our accomplishments. Our ability to survive our own life, to this day, is an accomplishment. Each new day is an opportunity for greatness!
We also need to keep in mind that the lives we see on Facebook are purposeful representations, illusions even, of the actual people. We use filters on our photos, post about our vacations, and expound about the most dramatic moments of our lives. Facebook gives us only a small glimpse of a person’s life, not the whole picture.
It’s not just Facebook either. Read Josie’s article about how Pinterest causes her to doubt the quality of the care packages she sends to her husband! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked at Pinterest and thought, “Is this the level of crafts good moms do?” I’m no where near that. Most of my domestic endeavors belong on PinFail instead!
Yet, another study, by Sebastián Valenzuela and his colleagues, suggests social media “increases social trust and engagement—and even encourages political participation.” We can even get a rush of excitement when we see large amounts of likes on a picture, high interaction on a status, or a slew of sympathy in times of need. Pinterest is designed to share ideas, to inspire us, and to suggest ways we can do things with and for the people we love.
So how can we participate in Facbook, and other social media sites, in a positive way?
Let’s remember this:
- That “actively creating content” and engaging others is a great way to help avoid social comparison. I.E. Quit stalking people!! For real. When you “stalk” you tend to be in a negative frame of mind that leads to an openness for envy.
- You can turn off the noise. Energy vampires are as real on Facebook as they are in the office. Hide those people from your feed. You know what? Just hide anyone that makes you start judging yourself until you are in a better place in your own mind. You can always un-hide them. Right?
- Limit your time on Facebook. Facebook can lead to multi-tasking. We are addicted!! We have to see who has updates, if anyone responded to our posts, etc. Just pick a few times each day to go on. Morning and night, maybe? Lunchtime? It will prevent us from being disconnected to the people around us, but still give us time for interaction. Bonus: The less you are on, the more “stuff” has happened when you do log in!
- Message more. Use the time you are on Facebook to make a meaningful connection. It’s great that you have 507 friends, but have you really connected with any of them recently (or ever)? Take a second to say a genuine “Hello.” Ask them about what is real in their lives. Bonus: You’ll have some actual messages to read, and you’ll end your session having had a real interaction. Mail makes people happy!
- Just because someone makes homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches–from scratch–does not make them a great parent! You are a great person, parent, friend, because of all the wonderful things that make you unique. There are areas where every person excels, they just might not be Pinterest-friendly. And hey, at least you took the time to use Pinterest to inspire creativity! Your kids will appreciate any time you spend with them.
Breathe. I made this helpful meme for you from a picture I took at Honeymoon Island. This is as good as my photography gets. Go ahead, Pin it!
The original text of this article appeared on Tampa Bay Moms Blog.
P.S. Don’t fall victim to the deadly impostor syndrome! We are experts in our own lives. We can’t measure what our success “looks like” next to someone else’s.