Comparing Yourself on Social Media
Comparing yourself on social media, feeling down seeing all your friends traveling, getting married, having babies and you work a part-time job and live with parents
Let me start with a story: Two friends meet to catch up, and they talk about their lives. As the stories unfold, one friend is dissatisfied with her relationship and the other is struggling with a burnout at work. Then the food comes. This means it’s time for 4-6 selfies, preferably with a breathtaking skyline in the background (ok, make that 10 selfies), the #greatfriends #greatfood #greatcatchingup hashtags, and off that selfie and filter goes into the realm of social media. And ten minutes later, while their food has gotten a little bit colder, a hundred friends around the globe think “Ah man look at that. My life sucks!”
Ok, so that was an invented story. Or, one that’s probably happening in a thousand cities around the world just while you are reading this paragraph. And that’s social media.
I’m holding myself back from citing countless studies on the effect that social media has on fragile self-esteem, negative body images, the rise of mental disorders and so much more - in just the past few years since it showed up.
Think about it: if you only had 365 friends on Facebook, and each one posted only one update per day - that would mean that one day in your life needs to hold up to a full year of moments on your newsfeed. The chance of you coming out of that on top are slim. Even if your life were as fulfilling as that of all your friends, your chances are still 1 out of 365.
So you can do one of two things:
One: Keep using social media to keep up with your friends’ lives, but do keep in mind that you are looking at a perfectly curated highlight reel of what’s going on in their lives. You see the “Best of”, and not random snapshots.
Two: Use the best of what social media has to offer, and strategically ditch the rest.
I myself am going with the second one. My phone only has three carefully chosen social media apps.
The first one is Facebook Messenger. That allows me - forces me! - to reach out to my friends with only the power of my two thumbs: “Hey! I was just thinking of you and wanted to hear how you are doing!”. How different is that from scrolling through the news feed and hitting that “like” button?
The second one is Facebook Local. It shows me the events that are happening nearby, and especially those that my friends are interested in. Out come the two thumbs again: “I saw you’re thinking of going to Donaukanaltreiben? I am planning to go on Saturday, do you want to meet there?”.
The third one is Instagram. And that’s only for inspiration - so that I find out about new restaurants, places to visit, etc. (which, you guessed it, often leads to my two thumbs kicking into gear).
The spot on my phone that was used by the Facebook App is now replaced with Kindle. And I make it through about 10 books a month. Muscle memory for the win!
So in short, using social media as a tool to measure your success in life is about as useful as a glass hammer. If you are searching for a better tool, ask yourself: What’s important for you in life? What do you want to stand for as a human being?
And then follow that up with: How can I do a little bit of that today?
May your newsfeed be a thing of the past,
About the Author
Michael Herold is a life coach based in Austria and Germany and works at The Art of Charm, a L.A. based company where he is using evidence-based psychotherapy to help clients overcome their social anxiety through playful exercises. If you’re strolling through the shopping streets of Vienna and you hear someone howl like a wolf in a shopping mall, or have someone ask you for a high-five or tell you a really, really bad joke - it’s probably one of his clients!
Michael is also a public speaker and speaker coach. He has spoken at TEDx, in front of members of parliament, universities and in once in a cinema full of 500 kids high on sugary popcorn. Clients he has coached for presentations have been featured on NBC, Fast Company, Forbes and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
In a previous life, he has been a character animator working on awardwinning movies and TV shows like “The Penguins of Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda”. That was before he realized that helping people to live a meaningful life is much more rewarding than creating Saturday morning cartoons (even though the long nights in the studio allowed him to brew his own beer in the office closet).