Social media usage encourages unhealthy comparisons

by News Editor Anna Brown

Social media. It is the magical place where all spare time and energy goes to die. Self-esteem and satisfaction can also disappear in the pages of wall posts and tweets.

A study conducted by the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found “social comparison” leads to increased rates of depression and discontent. Social comparison is “making comparisons, often between our most humdrum moments and our friends ‘highlight reels’ – the vacation montages and cute baby pics,” according to the study.

The results of this study do not surprise me.

People young and old around the world are obsessed with the perfect “selfie.” We mull over clever things to post on social media each day.

I spend too many lunch breaks and late nights scrolling through posts and photos about people’s happy or unhappy lives. I often find myself comparing my relationship or my job to others because of what I see on social media. I see posts about people’s accomplishments and I feel a deep envy rise. I think, “why can’t I look that good in a party dress?” or “I wish I could have a good job like he does.”

Since I was a preteen, I have struggled with insecurity. Due to struggles with my weight, I developed a self-image problem as a teenager. Even though I am now very active and a healthy weight, I still have insecurities about my appearance. It would be ignorant to think social media made no contribution to my continued struggle with my image.

All of these comparisons are a waste of energy. If we are constantly absorbed with beating other people’s accomplishments and appearance to prove our worth, we will never do what we are supposed to do.

I think we all need to realize social media is not always reality. Another Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin study found couples who posted the most gushy, positive information about their relationships actually have the most relationship problems. So, do not feel badly about your relationship status when you do not have the same mushy feelings as your Facebook friends.

I firmly believe each person was born to be a unique individual, not a copy of someone else. If we continue comparing ourselves to others on social media, how will we discover who we are supposed to be?

As a woman determined to leave my mark on the world, I refuse to compare myself to other people around me. My life goal is to live this quote by the great poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”