You are not a twenty-year-old if you do not scroll through social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter more times than you can count daily. Typically, we usually do it to starve our boredom or make us look busy when we are in an awkward situation. However, it grows into an addiction, and the next thing you know, you cannot live without them. While we are mindless scrolling through those social media platforms, we are inundated with tonnes of posts and videos highlighting the high points of our friends’ lives. As time goes by, we start to compare their milestones with our own and begin to pummel ourselves as we are slowly convinced that we are not making great strides in our lives.
However, why are we so glued to the habit of comparing ourselves to others? Social media companies designed their products and services so that they can grab your attention for as long as possible because more screen time means more money being generated for them. Innovations such as Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories and Twitter Space were created to allow people to share the most magical moments of their lives. Now, they enable us to see what our friends are up to and be envious of their free-and-easy lives. When you see your friend having a much better time than you, your first immediate response would be to look at your own life and figure out where it sits compared to your friend’s. You do not just do this with that one friend. You do this with almost everyone you connect with on social media.
Social media has created jealous behaviour over illusions. Sadly, some are envious of things, relationships and lifestyles that do not even exists.
Why are we twenty-somethings willing to torture ourselves like this? The answer is somewhat easy. The invention of the Internet has paved the way for new technologies to surface. These technologies enabled us to connect with other people worldwide. As social animals, we crave connection with other human beings and long to find our place not just in our local community but also in the global society. We want to know that we are not alone when struggling with a particular life problem. While social media sites have done an excellent job at it, it has also cued the pity party.
I am not going to fuel the party because it is pointless. You are perfect in your own way. That makes your life one of a kind. You will never be able to find validation from anyone or any society on any social media sites because they will never understand your story and how you have come this far.
All that being said, how do we combat this?
1. Don’t access the social media platforms, Sherlock
Do not start your day by accessing your most frequented social media sites. Stop that sh*t. When you commute to work or when you are supposed to be on the job, resist the urge to catch up with the latest memes on Twitter. Quit that nonsense.
When you take a short break at work, have a conversation with your colleague in the pantry, rather than having a conversation with your long-distance friend on Facebook Messenger. There is a place and time for that, but not when you are supposed to be focusing on more pressing matters.
2. Redirect Your Focus Elsewhere
I know it is challenging to break free of the social media addiction. However, never use that as a reason why you cannot incorporate new habits like reading, cooking, or gardening instead.
One good starting point would be to remove the social media apps from your smartphone or use an app designed to curb your social media time. Then again, I am sure that every smartphone comes with a pre-installed feature that allows you to limit your screen time on certain apps, including those from social media companies.
3. Limit Your Online Friends and Who Can Access Your Social Media
Are you familiar with the massively multiplayer online business simulation game called “Friends For Sale”? You know, the games where it allowed players to purchase and sell virtual pets representing other players. If you are, you will know that the platform is basically a place to see how popular you were. Although the game ceased the exist, it did teach the players that your twenties are rife with popularity contests.
The Internet has the capability of launching you to the moon or letting you plummet to the lowest of the low. Even when you are there, you are not entirely forgotten because people will make memes out of you and your struggles. The key point to bring home from here is this: your self-worth is not represented nor determined by the number of “likes” your posts have and the number of followers.
Look, I am not here to bash the social media companies for making our lives worse. These companies have invented tools that allowed us to conveniently connect with our family and friends, regardless of their whereabouts. However, if we do not discipline ourselves, we make ourselves vulnerable to self-pity and self-loathing, both of which do not serve our overall quality of life well.
There is nothing wrong with keeping yourself quiet and disconnecting yourself from the realms of social media. No one cares about what you have accomplished and whether or not you shared them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter. Focus on yourself and take control of your life because no one will rescue you if it falls apart due to your habit of constantly comparing yourself with others online.