Social media happiness
Recently, I’ve taken a personal goal of reducing my time spent on social media, particularly Twitter and Instagram. I made this decision because I realized that the content posted on these apps sometimes make me sad. There are times I would see my peers posting their various successes and triumphs, and although I feel genuinely happy for them, I would then berate myself for “not doing enough”. Last year, I made the personal decision to take a year long break from school because I needed it, and although I admit my break was necessary, it does not stop me from feeling inadequate when I see my peers moving forward in their careers.
At university a classmate was telling me about their exam experience for a course we shared. He told me how great he felt, because he passed with 95 percent on the final exam. I could see how genuinely pleased he was, and I felt happy for him. He asked me how much I scored, and I told him 96 percent. I immediately noticed how crestfallen he looked. I am 100 percent sure that he was not jealous, but I knew that in that moment my 1percent higher grade made him feel inadequate. It was in that moment that I realized I was not alone in my dark feelings; that comparing myself was a human characteristic.
No one likes to admit that seeing someone else succeed evokes feeling of inadequacy. Social media is often used to highlight the high points of our lives, which is completely fine, but it presents a very skewed representation of reality. It is almost a social taboo to post about sadness on social media, except in very specific cases, such as major disasters and death. This creates an illusion of happiness and positivity, when reality is far from such.
We often forget that most social media posts are highlights of a person’s life and not the entirety of it. A person might show pictures of themselves jetting off on business trips, but what you might not see is the strain travelling places on their relationships and health.
In English Literature, my favorite literary theme was “perception versus reality” because it seemed the most common occurrence in real life.
Social media allows us to perceive each other as successful and happy when our reality might be the opposite. It is human nature to compare and contrast, but social media amplifies the effect. I accept that I am prone to comparisons, therefore, I’ve chosen to limit my exposure to social media. Frankly, I do not think social media is inherently good or bad; it’s just a tool. However, I am a human being with flaws.
Do not misunderstand me, I will always be happy for my friends and family when they succeed. However, I think we all need to consciously and subconsciously understand that the success of others does not imply personal failure.