When I go into a blog post with a question, I typically like to have an answer already marinating in the back of my mind. I suppose that makes sense when you consider the natural progression of things. If you ask a question, you expect an answer. It’s basic instinct.
However, this post isn’t being written under normal circumstances. Not only do I not have an answer to the aforementioned question, but I don’t even think there is one. Not a definitive one. This is a topic that everyone has had different experiences with, and so I don’t think it can be proven one way or another.
My question, as you read in the headline, is this: Is it even possible to not compare yourself to other people on the internet?
Here’s my initial thoughts.
In a way, I feel as though the internet was built for comparisons. When I scroll through social media, I can’t help but notice how easy it is to immediately start wondering how your own posts measure up to others (*cough* *cough* I’m looking at you, Instagram). It’s like a switch has suddenly been flipped, and a million questions pop in your head. Are my photos even good? What about my theme? Why does everyone else seem to be leading more interesting lives than me? The list goes on.
What I’ve discovered is that it’s difficult to navigate the line between using social media to keep up with people and using it to drag yourself down. An innocent scroll through Instagram can quickly turn into a flurry of self-doubt and insecurity, latching on to your deepest worries and putting them into pictures. It only takes a couple of seconds to start second-guessing everything about yourself when you’re thumbing through photo after photo of people who seem more put together than you. People who are constantly going on extravagant trips and wearing fashionable outfits. People who seem to have unlocked some sort of secret code to the perfect life.
Of course, social media platforms don’t paint an accurate depiction of reality. Photos, by definition, are moments captured by light. They show you one single instance rather than a full scene. They’re snapshots, not film reels. And behind every perfectly positioned pose are (at least) a dozen of unflattering outtakes.
Because when it comes down to it, social media do not have to be multifaceted. People only have to show you the sides of their lives that they want to show you. They don’t need to include every (or any) embarrassment, regret or misfortune. They only have to call attention to the things they want other people to see.
By no means am I the first person to point this out. Quite frankly, at this point in time, I think it might be a universal standard. But in spite of being aware of the fact that social media posts are, at times, fabricated, I still can’t get away from the tendency to compare myself to other people on the internet. And I don’t think I’m the only one.
This leaves me to believe that comparisons are an inevitable part of being online. That regardless of how many times you remind yourself that what you’re seeing isn’t totally accurate, there will always be a sliver of uncertainty that creeps in. It’s human nature to be overly critical of one’s self. Maybe that means when the opportunity for self-doubt arrives in easily accessible forms like it does on social media, we take it. Perhaps the real trick is learning balance.
Do you have a tendency to compare yourself to others on social media?