Social media can be fun. And, it’s not evil. However, spending a great deal of time on social media can cause people to fall into the habit of needing more validation from outside sources than from within themselves.
We have a built-in need to fit in. Social scientists call this innate response Social Comparison Theory. Basically, this theory states that we determine our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others.
Even though this is a natural response, when counting on validation from others or focusing solely on how we stack up to everyone else, we can become trapped in dissatisfaction.
So, social comparison is nothing new—social media did not create it. It does, however, open up our world and we now have lots more people to compare ourselves to.
Instead of only trying to keep up with the Jones’, we now compare the quality of our lives and our success and happiness with people all around the globe.
Studies of how Facebook and other social media outlets affect our lives can explain some of the reasons we continue to plug in on a regular basis. We all know people who are constantly checking their status updates and stop whatever they are doing when they hear the ping that they have a new notification.
Many studies are showing that we are happier and mentally healthier when we access our social media less frequently.
One such study demonstrated that in just one week, participants who avoided their Facebook account reported being happier because they felt more present in their actual lives.
So, what can we do to reduce our social comparison on social media? Here are a couple of suggestions.
Obviously, the less time you spend on social media, the less effect this kind of social comparison will have on you. You may find you need to go cold-turkey for a week to recognize what a difference it makes.
Live Your Life
When you aren’t caught up in constantly checking your status updates, you’ll actually live your life. You’ll be more engaged in things that really matter instead of wishing you had the perfect life like so-and-so.
Schedule Social Media Time
It’s easy to get sucked into Facebook-land. So you don’t waste your life in front of your computer, set aside 10-15 minutes a day to participate in social media. Finally, consider “unfriending” those people who seem to trigger your social comparison negatively the most.