Social comparisons are deadly. And in today’s world we fall prey to them all the time.
Social media and the Internet are powerful resources that can enrich our lives – if we use them intentionally.
Here’s what I mean. We can build a business empire with social media. We can find great prospects, leads, and strategic partnerships online.
But, what can happen when we idle surf the web? We can be drawn into the deadly game of social comparisons.
Think you are above that? Maybe. I would urge you to think again. We are all susceptible to the images we see on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube – pick your social media of choice. And here’s the thing. Many of those seductive images are made up.
We live in a selfie world. It’s fun, entertaining, profitable, and dangerous. How dangerous? Check out the insightful research on the rise of teen suicide and it’s connection to social media.
I want to emphasize that I value social media. I respect its power to enrich and to destroy. When we fall into the trap of comparing our lives to “perfect lives” we see on social media, we run into serious trouble.
I know that this does not only apply to teens. Every single human being can be snared into the game of social comparisons. The only way to never engage in that game is to be 100% self-aware all the time.
That requires effort and discipline, just like physical exercise. Sometimes, it feels better to surf the web passively, and let our minds take a rest. That’s when your self image becomes easy prey to the perfect images that seduce us into deadly social comparisons.
Want to be the master of your self-narrative? Think about the beauty you find in nature. Walk in the woods and appreciate the limitless diversity you see there. Look at trees. Every one is different. They are short, tall, think, slender, straight, spiralled, smooth, and gnarled. It’s easy to see the beauty in all of them.
Are they perfect? Yes and no. What is perfection? We will stop comparing ourselves to others when we embrace the perfection of imperfection.
The animal kingdom teaches us a lot about about diversity. Look at three totally different breeds of dogs. A chihuahua, a bulldog, and a Great Dane, for instance. Do they get depressed because they don’t look alike? Does a chihuahua lose sleep and go to a pet shrink because it’s not as “beautiful” as a Great Dane?
These questions make you laugh. Well, have a good laugh at the times (we all have them) when you have felt “less than” someone because of social comparisons. Then, decide to stop playing the game.
T.S. Eliot, one of the great poets of the 20th century wrote these words: “There will be time, there will be time to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”
Think about those words the next time you find yourself drawn into the game of social comparisons. Remember that the people you are comparing yourself to have probably devoted time and energy to preparing the face to meet the faces that they meet.