I have a problem. The other day I found myself spending a couple hours browsing through friends and acquaintances’ FB timelines and Linkedin profiles.
Someone had a baby. Another person is traveling somewhere awesome. They are eating something that looks really good. He got a promotion. She’s doing something cool. They are hanging out with each other.
Seems all standard stuff right?
For the most part, social media is a pretty handy tool. It helps us stay somewhat connected and aware of what others are doing. But what happens when we start to look at other peoples’ lives and start to compare them to our own?
Therein lies my problem.
I’m sure this is an issue many of us face. It just so happens that I am the perfect combination of things that make online social networks very problematic.
First, I am self-conscious. I worry about perceptions. I think about myself a lot (narcissism, I guess). And yes, sociology friends, I analyze what I think others think about me.
Second, I love information. Particularly, new information. I want to know everything, and the internet feeds this addiction.
Lastly, I am competitive. Thanks to my family, being Asian, human nature, and American culture, I have a drive to be “the best.”
So when I spend time looking at profiles, updates, and job titles, I start to think about my life in comparison to others.
When I see that a friend of mine is a Vice-President of a huge, world-renown company, I think, “Wow. I am behind. Do I have financial security?”
When I see a post of my friends’ beautiful kids and what seems like their perfect family, I’m wondering, “Is something wrong with us not having a family?”
When I see people’s talents on display, I wonder, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could have a special talent.”
When I look at pictures of people and their amazing adventures, I wish I could do those things too.
I’m reminded of a quote Michelle shared with me a while back that reminds me how foolish and damaging some of these thoughts can be.
When we focus our attention on the things we don’t have, we take for granted the blessings we do have. We become petty, jealous, and distracted. We allow comparison to become the lens in which we view ourselves and all we see is faults, have nots, and concerns. We devalue ourselves into thinking that I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough to achieve things that others have.
We start to wonder if the happiness in our lives- the things we ought to be thankful for- is as good as others. The answer is it will NEVER be. What I mean is that you can always find something or someone that may be doing something bigger or supposedly better. Living this way, you’ll always set yourself up for failure.
We start to realize that when we compare our lives to others, we feel like failures because we are trying to live a life not our own. This was one of the biggest realizations of my life. There is no other me. We are all unique.
The best years of my life so far have been the ones when I started to make choices for me. Choices that helped me feel authentic and true to myself. I started to set goals for the life I wanted, my own bucket list. And one by one, as I achieve these milestones, I work toward the ultimate goal: living a fulfilled life, one that I am ALWAYS thankful for.
So there’s a good chance I won’t be on Facebook and LinkedIn as much as I used to be. Not because they aren’t great tools for connecting, but because I’ll be choosing to spend that time elsewhere for the purpose of bettering myself. To increase joy in my life.