The Comparison Game: Social Media vs Reality

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June 10, 2020

the comparison game, instagram vs reality, comparison is the thief of joy, comparing yourself to others, the harmful effects of social media

The Comparison Game. We all play it, whether we want to admit it or not. We all want to pretend we don’t care about what others think. But we do. And with social media, it’s easier than ever to get caught in the web of facades and filters.

Humans have been playing the comparison game for centuries. Remember the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”? That was coined back in 1913, and it was nothing new then either. Comparing yourself to your peers is as old as time, but it has certainly changed with social media. Now, instead of viewing someone from the outside with your own eyes or what you hear through the grapevine, we’re able to get an “inside” view of someone’s life through their social media posts. The savviest of social media influencers will share a “candid” shot on a beach in Fiji or a fun girls night slumber party, cocktails in hand. In reality, these images are produced. And for what?

As an influencer myself, I often struggle with this paradox of sharing my true life and experiences and producing content that is eye-catching and attractive. I strive to inspire others through beautiful imagery and compelling captions, while also being authentic and relatable – aka real. I’ll be honest: I love sharing my outfits, beauty tips, and travels so that others can experience the wonderful things I do, but lots of times, I get caught up in actually living my life instead of capturing it for Instagram.

Which makes me wonder: if all these people are living a seemingly idyllic life, then why are they spending all their time in front of a screen? It is NOT EASY to post on Instagram the recommended one time per day. For me, all it does it force me to live my life around an app, and I’m not ok with that.

I recently went on a trip to San Fransisco. I didn’t get one “Instagram-worthy” photo, but I had an absolute blast – more fun, in fact, than I did in Scotland, where I got tons of photos. Of course, there is a balance; it is possible to have a great trip where you get some beautiful photos to share. But great photos absolutely do not equal a great trip. Just like a gushy lovey dovey post on Valentine’s Day does not equal a happy and healthy relationship.

the comparison game, instagram vs reality, comparison is the thief of joy, comparing yourself to others, the harmful effects of social media

I’ve taken a step in the right direction in my opinion. I’ve been posting less on Instagram and the blog; I’ve lost followers, and my engagement could be better. Why? Because I’m not living my life for Instagram anymore and I’m being punished by the platform. But when you look at my lack of posts, what you don’t see is all the laughs and happy times I’m having instead of staring at my phone. And guess what? Even though my number of posts has gone down, my income hasn’t. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life and while I do let the comparison game get to me every now and then, it’s happening less and less.

So the next time you find yourself comparing your beautiful all-encompassing reality with someone else’s produced snippet of their life, remember what you’re looking at. People show you want they want you to see.

How do you stop yourself from playing the comparison game?

Photo by Ryan Carpenter.