Facebook. Instagram. Snapchat. Twitter. Think back to the last time you went on any of these social media sites, or any other ones for that matter. The point of these sites is to stay in touch with friends and family, and stay connected with the happenings in their lives. However, these sites have now become a means for individuals to showcase how "fun" and "perfect" their lives are.
We upload the very best pictures and most exciting events in our lives, and then broadcast them to our "friends." Then, countless hours are spent scrolling through social media sites to analyze the details of everyone else's lives. This is a mindless activity that subconsciously generates a feeling of inferiority when comparing your life to that of people in your community. However, no one posts about the negative aspects of their lives. Instead, what social media illustrates is a selective portion of an individual's life—an airbrushed, polished version. Even though we know this is what occurs, we still compare our own unedited lives to the carefully created profiles of our peers. This is an unfair evaluation that perpetuates a sense inferiority, loneliness, and jealousy within ourselves.
Additionally, the senses of inferiority and superiority are reinforced by the notion of "likes." The larger the amount of likes you have, the more successful and popular your post was. Conversely, a low number of likes indicates your post was not supported by your peers, which has the potential to elicit emotions of inferiority. Many times, I have seen friends delete posts due to the fact they did not achieve as many likes as they intended to get. Evidently, social media is being used as a reinforcer of popularity rather than a clear illustration of one's life.
In this quest to obtain the best pictures and coolest stories, we are forgetting to live in the moment and have real experiences. Recently, I visited the city of Tulum, in Mexico, and went to a site of Mayan ruins. Standing in place with so much ancient history, I was blown away. I then realized that the majority of people on my tour were consistently snapping pictures of the ruins or taking selfies with the buildings in the back. I overheard a girl next to me say to her friend, "I can't wait to Instagram this!" Rather than embracing the history and culture of the surroundings, people were instead focused on documenting it for future reference or social media posts. I'm not saying that we should refrain from taking photos or using social media, but we should be careful to live and experience situations first, and then document them.
The constant comparison to others on social media with the intent of making your life "just as amazing" as that of those around you is unhealthy and unnecessary. It stops you from having quality time and novel experiences, and creates unnecessary stress. Rather than picking that perfect filter or taking 50 selfies to find the best one, enjoy what is happening around you.
It's ironic. We craft these perfect posts and images to show our peers the fun and joy in our lives, but doing so causes us to miss out on the experiences that would elicit these emotions. Take pictures as mementos, as reason to reminisce on great experiences with friends and family. Pictures speak a thousand words, and are the perfect reminders of the events in our lives. But keep them as just that, mementos, rather than a means of competition and popularity. Recognize that social media posts are not accurate representations of others' lives, and learn to be content and happy with the life you live.
Everyone has good days and bad days, and in the end, we are all human. Do not give false representations the power to diminish your self-esteem and self-worth. Be present in your own life and see where it takes you. You might just find more than you expect.