The following article made the rounds recently: I Quit Social Media for a Year and Nothing Magical Happened. It’s interesting enough not only on its own, but also for the discussion generated around any piece about qutting social media. I will admit I’ve been flirting with the idea myself, but that’s a topic for another day. Of particular interest to me at the moment is this comment about the article on Hacker News:
My biggest issue with social media is less that it’s distracting (IMO not necessarily an unhealthy thing) but that it has, for me, more than anything else seemed to make all aspects of my life a competition with others.
On Instagram, you’re competing with others on who has the happiest life.
On LinkedIn, you’re competing with others on who has the steepest career trajectory.
Even on Twitter, perhaps more acutely in certain jobs or industries, it seems like you’re competing with other in gaining professional influence.
It creates a lot of anxiety that stems from a feeling like you’re constantly on the verge of falling behind others.
Plenty of scholars/thinkers/philosophers have said something to the effect of focusing on just being a better version of you. Social media enables the exact opposite i.e. forcing you to constantly evaluate how you compare to others.
It reminds me of my previous post “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”. This kind of mindset is applicable to real life as well as social media, though I do agree that social media tends to exacerbate the problem. If you are the type of person who has this mindset, then yes it’s probably a good idea to reduce/control/filter your social media usage accordingly.
I generally don’t suffer from this problem, mainly because I outgrew comparing myself to other people a long time ago, but also because I tend to aggressively filter my social media channels so that I’m only seeing content from people that are of interest to me. I wonder sometimes about those people who whine that Twitter is so toxic or some such complaint. Don’t they know they control the kind of people who appear in their feed? Why are they following toxic people? (I understand that this may be more of a problem that is difficult to control once you get to higher follower counts, but hey that’s the price you pay I guess.)
Somewhat related: Our 25th high school reunion is coming up next year, and this early our batch has a thread about High School Reunion Anxity (HSRA). Here are some excellent words from a batchmate that I thought were good to share (removing some stuff specific to this person and the batch, since the post was to a private group. Will happily cite the original poster if she requests it):
You’re not alone. It’s common to feel a lot of anxiety about attending a high school reunion. Our 25th at that. Kasi ohmaygad ganyan na ba tayong katanda?! … The second common barrier to attending is HSRA. Mostly because you might feel your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted and that other batchmates have done so much better.
So 2a - your life didn’t turn out the way you wanted. You know what? My life didn’t turn out the way I wanted. … I’m willing to bet nobody’s life turned out exactly the way they planned. And that’s OK.
2b - other batchmates have done better. OK so please for your own mental and emotional health do NOT compare other people’s external stuff (visible on Facebook, Instagram, etc) to your internal stuff. That’s illogical and bad science. Also will drive you crazy.