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Social media first became popular when I started college. As a freshman on a new campus far from home, it was a great way to connect with new friends and stay in touch with friends from home. It made it so much easier to share pictures, eventually allowing most of my family to see what I was up to.
Yet, since it first started, there have been negatives associated with social media as well. Some people have found themselves spending more time on social media than in face-to-face interactions. Hours can pass on the internet, just browsing.
For me, the biggest negative impact has been comparing my behind-the-scenes life to others’ highlight reel. Over the years, I’ve had to change my view on social media to combat this.
Let’s be honest – most people only post about the positives in their life. They post pictures of themselves enjoying vacations or having a great time at parties. They post about their award from work or talk about the volunteer work they participate in.
They do not typically share the nights they’ve cried or the times they have felt lonely. They do not typically post pictures from an average day. It’s only the exciting, fun times in life that are posted.
Sitting in your chair, at home, in front of the computer, perhaps you can only think about the negatives in your life. “Well, all my friends are out doing fun things while I am sitting inside at home. Joy…”
I’ve caught myself doing that too many times. Thinking I am such a boring person with no friends, doing nothing fun. Sometimes I need to take a look at my own page – seeing all the fun I have posted. Sometimes I need to look at some of my photos – the pictures with a huge smile on my face, when I was actually having a terrible day. I remember the emotions I had with some pictures – although most were truly positive days, not all pictures were from amazingly happy times, even if they look that way.
I’m not about to take pictures of myself when I’m not looking happy. I’m not willing to post pictures of myself fighting an eating disorder battle in my head.
There can seem to be so much pressure online, so much intensity to prove yourself. It’s the new version of “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Instead of comparing lawns, we are now comparing social media popularity and activity.
I doubt anyone got into social media with the idea it was going to used to compare negatively. Yet this is what many people do. They compare negatively or maybe try to make their life seem that much more glamorous with constant picture updates.
It’s time to change our view on social media, to determine the purpose social media holds in our lives. The purpose is going to be different for every person. Is it about keeping up with friends we don’t see often? Is it about sharing pictures with others? Is it about organizing events?
Take a minute to think about the purpose of social media for yourself and how you can change your outlook on it. For me, I like being able to see what my friends are doing, and it is a great way to contact people I have not talked with in a while.
After you have determined the purpose, use social media to stick to the purpose. Avoid using it for other reasons. Think about your mindset before you get onto social media. Are you in a negative mood that could be triggered with social media?
Anytime I find myself falling down the path of comparison on social media, I remember, “Don’t compare your backstage life to other’s highlight reel.” (Steven Furtick)
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