We’ve all experienced it. The day is going great: class let out early, someone held the elevator for you and for some reason your hair is just killin’ it today! Then BOOM. You log onto Facebook and see that an old high school friend just got engaged to a Bradley Cooper look-a-like. UGH. Suddenly your perfect hair day just got a whole lot more insignificant. Even if you log off, images of the happy fiancés feeding each other spoonfuls of crème brûlée from their couples cooking class are burned into the back of your brain. Then comes the inevitable torture of wondering why your own life doesn’t compare to their shiny perfect photos. Why does social media have the power to take our day from a 9 to a 3? And what can we do so it doesn’t make us feel so crummy?
Remember that Social Media is not real life
As much as we’d like to think that Facebook is an accurate reflection of our lives, it’s often far from it. The truth is, we’re all selective of what we put on social media. I know I’m definitely guilty of focusing on the good things going on in my life and cropping out the bad. We use Instagram filters to make ourselves look tanner and Pinterest boards to show everyone that awesome apartment we’re decorating. Whether it’s subconscious or not, we tend to paint a picture on social media that makes our lives look like a more perfect version of reality.
Even though we admit to jazzing up our social media accounts, it’s hard to get our head around the concept that other people do it, too. We still take other people’s posts at face value. We assume that live tweets from Coachella and vacation photos from the Caribbean are accurate representations of real, daily life. Next time you see a post that makes you wince with jealousy, remember that no one tweets about the lines for the port-a-potty at a festival and it’s just as easy to crop out the crowds at a gorgeous beach. A post on social media is just a microscopic piece of that person’s life, and most likely they have to deal with the same shit that we all do. Being jealous of someone for one perfectly composed photo without knowing their whole story is just silly.
Break the Cycle
If you’re looking at your friends’ posts with envy/sadness/frustration at your own life, your friends are probably feeling the same about some of your posts as well. Be a leader and break the cycle. Add more social media posts that accurately reflect your life — the good and the bad. Don’t use a filter to make things look brighter or crop things to create perfect composition. Let the world see your real life.
Reconnect with actual friends
Yes, social media can be an awesome way to keep in touch with family and friends. But do you need to be scrolling endlessly through posts of acquaintances you hardly know? Try doing a massive friend purge on Facebook (believe me, it’s therapeutic) or alternatively “subscribe” to a select group of friends whose lives you actually care about instead of that one girl who was in your summer camp in 7th grade.
Seeing updates from people you actually know will give real life context to their posts. Instead of seeing your buddy’s summer in Europe and feeling depressed you barely left your neighborhood this year, you’ll remember that she worked her ass off at her job and totally deserves a vacation. You’re more likely to feel happy for a close friend than jealous of their awesome lives.
Sometimes the best strategy is just to back away from the computer. Social media can be a super handy tool for maintaining personal relationships or building a business, but it can very quickly become addictive. Sometimes it’s just easiest to unplug for a while. Deleting Facebook off my phone was one of the best things I’ve done in a while. If you find yourself comparing your own life to those in your social media feed, log-off, unplug, and go live a life worth being proud of.