Theodore Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” Perhaps that has never been more true than today, in the digital age.
How many hours a day do we spend on social media? One study shows that the average individual spends about two hours on his phone every day. That may not seem like much, but over a lifetime, that time totals up to about five years. And that number is even higher for teens today, who spend an average of nine hours every day on social media.
That time is spent mindlessly scrolling and twiddling, and thrown into that time are pauses to admire and maybe even envy that thin, tan girl with perfect teeth and skin, or that muscular guy with the great smile and a girl ever on his arm. We might envy the careers, homes, or vacation destinations of others. We can easily find ourselves feeling jealous, inadequate, and even intimidated by these seemingly perfect figures.
It’s important to remember that social media is almost never an accurate representation of a person’s real life. Nearly all of us are guilty of only posting the best, most aesthetically pleasing portrayals of our lives and leaving out all of the flawed and unedited images that live in our camera rolls and draft boxes. You are only seeing others’ highlight reels, not what lies on their cutting room floor.
Many of us today place much our our attention and even our self-worth on the number of followers or friends we have. Remember that your value does not lie in the number of likes, comments, or followers you accrue, but in who you are as a real, human person.
Another common feeling we have while on social media is believing that we are somehow better off than our friends, family members, and those that we follow. Believing we are higher up than others is just as dangerous as believing we pale in comparison to them. Don’t be so quick to pass judgment on others simply because of what they choose to post on their social accounts.
Social media can be an incredible tool to help us stay connected to our loved ones and causes we care about, but it can be just as dangerous as it is useful. Use caution when using social media. Limit the time you spend scrolling through your news feeds, and even further limit the amount of time you allow young people in your life to spend on theirs. Social media, while believed to be harmless, can quickly disconnect us from the real world.
If you feel that social media has affected your mental health, and if you need to talk to someone, feel free to reach out.