Social Media: The Thief Of Joy

Social media propels a comparison culture where we measure our success, self-worth and happiness through likes, emojis and comments. We measure, liken, contrast and mould our entire lives around comparison.

As humans, we all make comparisons. Perhaps more so now than ever. Our world is governed by digital media. Social media constantly shows the highlight reels of people’s lives, masking fears and self-doubt. Comparisons can be a motivation executioner when they keep you from working towards your goals. You scroll through your feed and draw assumptions that others are further ahead.

Social media is neither good or bad. It’s our use of social media and the meanings we derive from it that can either be helpful or harmful. Obsessive Comparison Disorder is real, active and spreading in our social media driven world.

Comparison has reached new global heights. Global thinking perpetuates the need for people to brand themselves in the best light possible. Studies support the extensive use of Facebook has been linked to many unhealthy mental conditions. Ted Roosevelt captured it well when he said that “comparison is the thief of joy”.

Gone are the days waiting to draw comparison at the 20-year reunion. Social media has reduced the time span to give you direct access to comparing yourself with everyone within a single moment.

Every day people are trying to pull off a dazzling, filtered, edited pictures of a life being lived. Sorry to wake you up from the dream. It isn’t real. When we buy into the illusion of the perfection, obsessive comparison disorder has just amplified — “Why can’t my relationship look like the couple snuggling together watching the sunset? Why could I never be wealthy like them? Why can’t l have all the good fortune like Zoe and have her body?”

This adventure creates a distorted view of all the things you don’t have to live this incredible life. It robs you of all the beauty that is in front of you — the people, the experiences and self-love. It blocks you of real conversations, prevents you from living and experiencing life, isolates you to the point that you ghost write your existence to experience a false sense of being alive.

The reality is people continue to showcase the best aspects of their life onto social media. We emphasize the best versions to hide the real version. We get drawn into the illusion and begin to question our individual accomplishments, appearances and behaviours. Even though consciously we recognize how this is illogical we are drawn to the emotional responses like a moth to a flame. Emotion trumps our sense of logic.

Comparison becomes a dark hole. A battle that you will never win. Let’s rewire our thinking by changing our practices to source a way out. Couple this with practice, self-compassion and positive self-talk to recalibrate the internal comparison monster by becoming the architect of your life and adopting 10 strategies to break the habit of comparison with others. Take the first step.

Invest in horse blinkers, they work

Cut your social media time in half by taking regular breaks and removing the opportunity to play victim. When you think about a horse carrying a carriage, horses are always wearing blinders to prevent them from being distracted or freaked out by peripheral noise. The horse focuses on the moment, here and now to the exclusion of anything else. Imagine what would happen if we reinvested all our energy from comparing ourselves to others to staying in our own lane.

It’s time for an inner revolution

As a leader, be clear about your values, beliefs and strengths. Know who you are and what you stand for. When you realize the power of focusing on your inside team, you build empowering beliefs and your positive impact on others and in business multiples. Always leverage your strengths and amplify your unique DNA.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all

Social media has become the toxic mirror. Selfies have taken over due to the array of applications to alter bodies in pictures, a bit of a nip and tuck to become prettier, thinner and hotter, apply filters to refine our features or cover up some of perceived flaws and imperfections. We touch up, tone up, cover up and all with a swipe of a finger. All this provides is an illusion of control. It’s time to let it go.

Comparing apples with oranges

How do you find someone with the exact same goals and priorities as you to make a meaningful comparison? You can’t. Where you are in life today is because of your choices, decisions and action that you have taken. You can’t compare with someone 20 years ahead or before you.

Let’s flip the switch

What if there was nothing wrong with comparison? We know in business competitor analysis is conducted strategically to determine strengths, areas of development within the market and uncover strategies that will provide you with a distinct advantage. It creates a platform to adjust actions. At times, leaders in business make decisions not to create change but to stay the same. Maintaining their superior self-image becomes the priority.

Even more than that, what if comparison was used by a leader to stay passive because they were so invested in judgement of others to avoid living their own life. Sometimes it’s easier to externalize then perhaps take responsibility for ourselves.

AA Philosophy — admit that you cannot control your addiction

Comparisons feeds self-image. When we are insecure, our self-esteem is compromised and our self-work depleted. We engage in comparison as it becomes a habit. When you recognize your comparison is an addiction, then you embrace taking the first step on embarking on a sense of freedom, cutting the cords of not being good enough and ceasing from using comparison as a substitute.

What would we do with our time if we stopped comparing?

How much time and effort do we invest in the ‘why’? Why am I not like them, why couldn’t I do the same, why am I not successful? What if we focused our energy on our growth, development and purpose? Focus on following our own path and conspiring to do what’s right for you.

Life is not a competition

When we share other’s successes, our vibration rises. I’m not talking about “woo-woo”, I’m referring to when you close the gap from where you are to where you want to be. When we appreciate things no matter how big or small. Living with gratitude allows you to see the true essence of life and even more than that, the true essence of you and comparison is not an option. When you find new ways to collaborate with others, we see ourselves as equal. We let go of the need to compare and our energy flows to something bigger than ourselves.

Plugging in and out

Before we condemn social media outright, there is research to suggest benefits to being plugged in such as cultivating a positive sense of self through our profiles and gaining social support through our networks.

We also know that peace happens when you unplug. The constant pressure and expectation to remain digitally plugged in is taking its toll. We live a life constantly wired to social media to the detriment of our quality of life, health and wellbeing. We hear stories of addiction, cyberbullying and comprised emotional wellbeing.

It is time to consider usage in moderation and proceed with caution. Perhaps a digital detox occasionally, to stay grounded is a fabulous self-investment. Leaders, stop investing in comparing yourself to others. Stop focusing on how you measure up to others and invest all your energy on being the best version of you.

As first published in Leaders In Heels