Scrolling, scrolling, scroll some more, not quite done? Didn’t think so. Oh and while you’re there, could you please go look at all those wonderful people you follow and compare yourself to them? Fantastic, good job, you’ve now fallen into the social media comparison trap.
Sound familiar? That was your inner critic talking. Don’t worry though, you’re not alone, I’m pretty sure almost everyone has fallen into this trap at some point. Myself included.
You see, you know as well as I do that social media isn’t real (most of the time). The amazing people you see online don’t actually live this perfect life full of success, travel, amazing perfect children etc. They live real lives like the rest of us, they fail, they cry, they aren’t perfect.
So why, when we know this, is it still so hard to stop comparing our lives to theirs?
Why do we fall into the social media comparison trap?
We’ve gone through our entire lives being compared to other people. As a child, you’re told how much you resemble (or don’t resemble) your parents. In school, you’re placed into different classes depending on your learning level. When applying for university you’re pitted against other students to get in and when applying for a job, you’re compared completely to the other applicants.
In fact, according to a study done by Bond University, people who used Instagram more often tended to engage in more social comparison on Instagram when their self-worth was more contingent on other people’s approval.
So, your constant social media comparison isn’t something you do more than others. It’s not something unusual. It’s common because we’ve been conditioned our whole lives to compare ourselves to others to survive.
So now we know we’re not alone, how can we overcome it? Because we all know that feeling after a good scroll session that leaves us with very little self-worth.
How to overcome the social media comparison trap
Realising why you compare yourself to others is half the battle. Now you know you’re not alone, you can start seeing these people you admire on social media as real humans with insecurities, just like you.
The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.Steve Furtick
But let’s get to some real techniques, shall we? Here are three that I use when I catch myself comparing:
Enjoy being unapologetically you
There is something unbelievably magical about being unapologetically you on the internet.
When we get into the comparison trap, it’s human nature to start unintentionally copying the people we admire. We take aspects of their lives, how they present themselves and we make them our own.
But by doing this, we are not being truly ourselves, and the social media world knows it.
Name a few of your favourite people online. I bet they have at one point opened up to the people that follow them. They have been honest, they seem unique, they’re relatable and likeable. The reason they are all these things is that they are being unapologetically themselves.
Take a look at how you present yourself online. Are you showcasing the true you? Or are you moulding yourself into all the people you admire?
Being truly yourself is not only good for your mental wellbeing, but for all those people online who might be comparing themselves to you too.
Step away and be creative
I’m guessing while you’re scrolling, you’re looking at other people’s images, their design, their life, the way they present themselves, even the filters they use.
When you notice yourself doing this, stop. Put your phone down, step away from your computer and take a second.
Why are you comparing your work to the work of others? It may well be that you’re feeling uninspired, unmotivated, unhappy with your creative work. If this is the case, then looking at other people’s work is not going to help you. You know that.
Take the time you would be scrolling to write down any thoughts that pop into your head. Are you feeling like your work is not where you want it to be? If so, what can you do about it?
Forget about the other people on your feed. Focus on you, what you like, your style, your wants and dreams. Then take action.
Get to know the person behind the comparison
If you’re comparing yourself to a random stranger on the internet, or even a friend. It’s time to send them a message.
Whatever has made you compare yourself to them, send them a private message, email or letter (that would be pretty amazing!) and congratulate them or compliment them on their success. Then have a conversation and get to know this magical mythical stranger.
You’ll soon find that your comparison will start to melt away, and instead, you’ll be left with a gooey feeling of doing something amazing and quite possibly a new friend.
The social media comparison trap is an easy one to fall into. We can’t see the people we admire in real life, we can’t witness their movements, their ups and downs. All we see of them is what they want us to see.
So it’s no wonder that after a session of social scrolling, we feel deflated and sad. But that can change as long as you’re aware and take action.
Have you ever had trouble comparing yourself on social media? Let me know in the comments below.