I hear the term on the daily, especially in terms of social media: comparison.
Among the people I follow, questions about social media itself and how to deal with comparison have been circulating a lot. How do you feel about social media? How do you handle comparison on these platforms? Should I take an Instagram hiatus?
I’d like to think that we’re all just sharing our most intimate selves on this platform, but we’re not. As it has been said before, all the squared off corners and filtered pictures are just a hint at what is the trueness of what our lives are. And that’s all it really can be. Airing too much on social media is considered dirty laundry is another form of sharing that can be too much and not needed. Where is the balance? Is there one?
When you’re reading this post, I want to make it clear that I don’t think that Instagram, or any other social platform, is bad. I also don’t have all the answers, as a twenty-something, I’m just as much trying to figure it out myself as anyone else it. I’m not advocating that people should give it up altogether, but I am questioning its use and its impact in my life, and invite you to question that for yourself.
The thing I love about Instagram is the visual storytelling. I love expressing through photos, videos, and words, but I think it might be time for me to reevaluate how I use this social platform. Every time I’m bored or when I feel like running away from the hard stuff, I have an inclination to turn to scroll—submerging myself in other’s lives and pictures.
It’s here were this term, comparison has become prominent to me, it has flooded into my life. While it was once an abstract word, one that had meaning but I didn’t see the effects of, it has now become very real for me. I’m starting to see how social media, Instagram in particular, has come to affect my overall well-being.
When I’m trying to make a decision in my own life, even if it’s as small as what to do for lunch, I end up consulting the ideas that I’ve gotten from what I’ve seen from other people that day. What would so-and-so get for a quick hour pick-me-up? What is the most Instagram worthy sandwich I can order? It also comes with larger life questions. I unconsciously ask myself if this next step in my career, if this job will allow me to be like her/him, will it give me the same opportunities, will I be as successful? This is what they did when they graduated from university, should I do that too?
When these questions pop into my head, I don’t automatically think, Oh, I’m starting to compare myself to someone else, but it’s more of after the fact—after I’ve made the decision and thought about the effects of it, and if it really was a genuine one.
Instead of being in the present moment, focusing on my own work—or even on the music that is playing in the cafe I’m sitting in—I am constantly in my own mind, comparing myself to whoever’s Instagram feed I just looked at.
Inspiration is good, advice is good, guidance is good, but there is a deeper conscious and gut feeling in each individual’s lives that can’t be compared to any other.
I’ve thought about ditching Instagram for a week, or even a month. Normally, when I set goals that I set for myself they never work. If I say that I’m going to take a week off of Instagram, it will feel too clinical, like I’m giving myself a dose of medicine to prevent the pain and not actually go to the root of it. Or if I fail at the goal I set for myself, I’ll feel worse about it than if I just continued to use Instagram.
I’ve decided on trying to use Instagram differently. I still like sharing and being connected into people’s lives but perhaps limiting the time I give myself on the platform each day and unfollowing the accounts that don’t add any meaning to my feed. I’ve also considered using this blog more as an outlet than just containing all of my posts on Instagram.
This platform also seems more authentic for me, more genuine, and more approachable. I’ve been blogging since 2014, and although the past few years I haven’t been posting as much, sharing my writing and photos on here is more of a means of expression and rather than comparison.
No matter what I do, redefining my relationship with social media is a task that I’m working on. I’m still trying to figure out this age of social media and how to navigate it as a millennial, but I’d like to open up the conversation to you. What do you think about social media? How does it affect you? What are some things you like and some things you don’t?
Feel free to leave comments below or contact me via the contact form. Let’s keep this conversation going.