6 Reasons Not to Use Social Media to Compare Yourself to Others
Good Morning, Readers!
I’ve now written about 40+ posts while still trying to get my website up and running for others to see, but I have to say, this topic is by far one of the most important apart from spreading awareness about various diseases/injuries as well as incorporating the importance of God into all of it.
Social media is huge. You can’t be anywhere without seeing advertisements about it, people using it to entertain themselves at weddings, or even being in a restaurant that offers Wi-Fi hotspots (Panera is a big one) to use it. It’s literally everywhere, and therefore explains why we use it so often.
Ok, so what’s wrong with that? Well the issue begins, once again, with playing the comparison game. If you refer back to my earlier posting of tips on how to manage the grieving stage; the very first tip listed discusses damages caused from playing such game. http://strengtheningthemuscleoffaith.com/3-tips-manage-grieving-stage/
Let’s delve deeper into this to gain a better understanding. You are a struggling single mother of 3 children who works full-time despite having Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused from being a long-term smoker. COPD is progressive, and causes difficulty with breathing (pretty important, right?). You’re also a born-again Christian who volunteers for your church when you have the time. Lunch is finally here and you’re able to sit down for an hour in peace. The sandwich you packed got smashed on the drive to work…typical. Your cellphone is close by so you log into Facebook to see whether your friend decided to get that 30th tattoo she’s been raving about for the past 3 months.
(activate eye roll) She did, but pictures of it are yet to come.
So you keep scrolling…and scrolling. Oh. Your other friend just posted that she got a huge job promotion working at a very well-paying job, and she’s in the process of buying a new house. That’s…good, right? So, why do you feel like crap? Introducing: the comparison game. The struggling single mother is looking at her friend’s success and wondering why she gets all the blessings while she’s working her tail off just to make it from paycheck to paycheck.
Her kid’s school supplies are needed for the new year, but the rent on the house she’s been trying to move out of just went up. On top of that, she has her medical bills she’s still paying off for the treatment of her COPD. Money doesn’t grow on trees for her, but it seems like it’s just raining down from the Heavens for her friend on Facebook.
BUT…and there’s a big but, what this mom doesn’t know is that her friend on Facebook is suffering from crippling anxiety and has depression to the point where she’s contemplated taking her own life.
Yeah… you won’t see that being posted on Facebook. So, what’s my point with this scene?
1. People (typically) only post positive life events or changes.
This is my main point with the example scene listed above. The only thing this single mother saw was that her friend got a big promotion, which meant more money to buy a new house. She didn’t get to see that her friend was struggling with extreme anxiety and depression. That would have certainly changed things a bit when it came to the mom playing the comparison game! This mother took her current financial situation and compared it to that of her friend’s most recent success. That’s all she had to go by.
Let’s pretend that said friend had posted her ongoing struggle with anxiety as well as suicidal thoughts over the past few months. How do you think the mother would have analyzed the scene differently? Sure, she was having financial trouble and she had some stress making ends meet for her and her children as well as her health, but she didn’t wake up each day with thoughts of taking her life. She has three children to care and provide for since the father was out of the picture.
The mother would have also not been so hard on herself when comparing to that of her friend’s situation if she had seen that she too had some pretty major health complications. Being a Christian woman, she understands that God has a plan for everyone, which means that despite her current health and financial situation, God has the rest of her life already planned out from start to finish. Her struggles won’t be in vain. God will provide better for her and her family. Even if God’s answer is no at this time, this only means He has something better planned ahead.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
2. Honesty is not a strength for everyone.
Isn’t this the truth. How many times do you log on your social media to see that someone you know posts something about a topic which you conclude to be 100% false? How do you know this? Probably because were there with them. So you’re sitting there reading about last weekend’s party where this person claims to have taken seven shots without being affected when you know that he was only able to take two shots before having to rush to the restroom to barf. I mean…this is pretty normal of any social media. If you weren’t there at the party to witness the truth, the only thing you have to go by is what you read on your screen. That’s not exactly reliable. It becomes a debate of “he said, she said” and the only true way to know the facts are if you were there to witness them firsthand.
That’s not exactly convenient since you have a life of your own. You can’t be everywhere at once to know the truth about every situation, and this further proves why social media shouldn’t be used as a comparison tool or even a tool to find out reliable information from. I’m not sure how many of you can relate to this, but are any of you big Google fans?
I sure am, and if I wake up with a new symptom from my TBI, I can’t simply go to the doctor right then and there. I research information. However, I only use trusted medical sites such as those that end in .org (mayoclinic.org is a big favorite of mine since I was a patient there). The link to their site is listed here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/
Any other .com site is either not trusted, not updated with current information, or allows anyone to post information to the site. Someone could post that a fart causes cancer…and then freak out 8 billion people. I’ll pass and just use trusted, reliable, and honest sites to acquire my information if I can’t make it to see a doctor.
3. The information you acquire may not be up-to-date.
Here’s another really funny thing about Facebook specifically. You could have been born in 1980, and then joined Facebook in 1995. I’ve seen where Facebook puts the little timeline life event of your birth…and then right after that say that you joined Facebook (almost like you joined right after being delivered). If that’s the case, any event that is posted could have incorrect dates or have events listed 3 weeks before they even occur. Basically, even Facebook isn’t an honest platform. It is strictly based on the honesty of its users (which, please refer to number two).
Now, I understand why some people would want specific dates keep confidential. I get that (I do this myself). On the other hand, this doesn’t help Facebook’s, Twitter’s, or Tumblr’s credibility. So let’s say you log into one of these social media sites and you see that your brother and his wife announced they are expecting a baby. Cool beans!
A week later, you log in only to discover that your brother’s relationship status lists him as “separated.” Wait, what?? You waste no time giving him a ring to figure out what the heck is going on only to find out that his relationship status hadn’t been changed since his first marriage failed.
But, isn’t this the fault of the user? Why yes it is. But Facebook doesn’t have the ability to post the most frequent and updated information on its own without the help of its user, so information may (and most likely will be) out-of-date whether intentional or unintentional.
4. Flat out, it causes stress.
I mean, this is obvious, right? Referring back to our number one example above with the mother of three, it’s very easy to see how social media can create some very unnecessary added stress in your life. You might log in to find that your bf/gf has been unfaithful to you with a friend of yours, but come to find out, this information was not true. Someone posted that on social media either as a joke (because they’re mean) or because they were upset. The problem is, you had already broken up with your bf/gf and also called off the friendship with the person they allegedly been romantic with. All this happened before you discovered that the post was a lie.
Ok, now what? It’s doubtful either relationship can be salvaged and therefore, you’ve lost two important people in your life all because (once again) social media had no credibility. Talk about some major stress. You’d have stress, first, due to reading the lie, and secondly, the actions taken because of the lie. Was it worth it?
The biggest problem that I see most often is that my generation doesn’t like to pick up the phone or even go to the source to get the answers they seek. Nope, they’d rather text it, or read it off a social media site. I’m not going to lie to you…that’s sad. I dislike talking on the phone as well. I prefer to text, BUT, if there is an important conversation that I need specific details with; then I don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or go to the source. It’s too risky to get information strictly from a third-party source.
Here’s a topic (just like all the rest) that’s absolutely No Joke. There are very young people, as young as age 12, signing up for social media. I feel this is wrong. They are too immature to realize fact from fiction and too inexperienced dealing with the cruelty of others. At an older age, they’d have the experience to deal with both accordingly. Now, is it right that they have to put up with the cruelty of others? Heck no. But unfortunately, this is the world that we live in, and this is why it’s important for them to be well educated on such a topic.
The very first thing that parents need to consider before allowing their child(ren) to engage in social media is to educate them on proper conduct while online. If your child already has an issue with bullying at school, social media is NOT something that they should be authorized to engage in. The child must be dealt with first as well as their unacceptable behavior. Their negative behavior is not only a negative statement for themselves, but for the parents as well. It will be seen as poor parenting. The child shouldn’t simply be given a slap on the wrist for this. Immediate action must be taken to completely end such destructive tendencies.
Based off statistics taken from October 10, 2016 by the Cyberbullying Research Center: here is a diagram that shows cyberbullying by gender.
Based off the last two samples, men tend to be more prone to being the bully rather than getting bullied online. According to meganmeierfoundation.org, “Approximately 34% of students report experiencing cyberbullying during their lifetime.” (Patchin 2015) The more popular social media becomes, the higher these statistics will most likely become. However, one way to prevent this from happening is by teaching your children the consequences of any type of bullying, as well as monitoring your child’s social media account often to make sure they are not posting any harmful content.
If you or someone you know is being bullied/cyberbullied, please click this link immediately or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 right away.
Also, please check out Megan Meier’s website and foundation: https://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/cyberbullying-social-media.html
6. Suicide concerns. (*Trigger Alert*)
Wow, Amanda. Why isn’t this number 1? Hear me out: It should be, but I placed it here because it combines what numbers 1-5 discuss, and I wanted to elaborate on this more.
If a person is already suffering with some pretty extreme depression, the last thing they want to see is what number 1 covers. All they see is their friends or family living these seemingly perfect lives filled with sunshine and rainbows without even the hint of rain or clouds in the sky. They unfortunately begin playing the comparison game very, very early (even without being on social media). They compare themselves whether knowingly or unknowingly to everyone else around them. Even if the person next to them doesn’t have the best life, a person suffering from depression will only pick out the aspects that are better than their situation and disregard everything else.
Let’s raise the bar a bit. Pretend that this person is viewing friends and family (in person) living these fantastic lives compared to their own life. Yes, they also see the truth behind the fantastic, but as stated, they will only choose to see the good over the bad because their confidence with their own life or with themselves is already dangerously low.
Now…add social media to the equation.
This person loses the ability to see the reality of others’ lives. All they see now are what is plastered on social media, which is typically only positive events. The person suffering with debilitating depression no longer has the chance to see that others are suffering too or that they are not the only person going through hard times. All they see are other people gaining, and benefitting while they suffer.
Since social media only relies on the honesty of others, a person with depression won’t be able to know what’s a lie and what’s truth because they can only see what is being posted by others. They don’t have the ability to see into every other life. Most of the time what happens is that numbers 2-4 blend together. This person is lost and overwhelmed in a maze of lies which only increases their already heightened stress level.
Let’s add on the devastation of number 5. It’s not hard to see why number 5 and number 6 go hand-in-hand. The more a person suffering with depression is experienced with cyberbullying or any bullying to be honest, the greater the likelihood they will want to take drastic actions as a means of escape. This is something that should never be allowed to happen. A person’s life is priceless and it was paid for by the actions of Jesus being crucified.
To conclude, there are many, many more reasons why social media should be carefully considered before use as well as understanding why it’s never a valid tool to use to confirm playing the comparison game. It’s always best to get the facts from the source instead of looking through a screen to see the lives of others. People only post what they want others to see. It’s unlikely they’ll post the down and dirty facts of their everyday lives.
For tips and tricks on handling the chaos in your life (based off of a TBI survivor) please read the post titled: How to Stay Sane Through the Chaos. http://strengtheningthemuscleoffaith.com/how-to-stay-sane-through-the-chaos/