You just hit a record number of likes on your latest Facebook profile photo. You feel like Sally Field and shouting, “You really like me!” to your undying social media fans. Seeing double digits next to that itty bitty blue thumbs-up sign means something; it means people care, right?
We’ve reached an era where our Internet-crazed minds believe our self-worth depends on the number of retweets or likes on our instagram feed. We afford the Internet so much power and allow it to dictate our own lives and relationships. Based on the photo uploads and the witty 140 character one-liners, we think everyone else is having a better time than we are. The thing is: the Internet is only a half-truth.
The Internet is a very public and very biased reading of one’s life. It only reveals what the individuals wants to reveal; and those insights usually only include the highlights, the ups, and the glories. Online magazine Relevant posits that our tendency to compare when using the Internet destroys community. This is contrary to what the Internet is intended to do; it’s supposed to connect us users from across the globe. Instead, we take one look at our high school friend’s kick-ass Spring Break photos or a glance at a recently engaged colleague posing lovingly with her fiancé in Barcelona, and we become envious. We wonder why our lives aren’t as fabulous or fun or memorable.
It appears that social media has become a means to compare our mundane lives to those of the beautiful and interesting. We forget that the photos we see and the statues we read are usually only pieces of the truth. With social media, we don’t see the messes, the downs, and the tears that accompany the good parts of our lives. On top of that, we tend to log onto Facebook or check twitter when we’re bored, thereby further emphasizing our dissatisfaction. So our inner green monsters becomes a veritable Hulk.
Don’t get this writer wrong. She loves her social media. She’s as addicted to uploading onto Instagram as she is looking at others’ amazingly filtered images. However, we should try to remember that with all this power comes great responsibility. Social media is a tool to connect, and we should use it that way. Next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed, take a second to wish someone a good day or read a good blog (like this one! – shameless, I know). Connect not compare.