Social media can be a melting pot of insecurity. A seriously addictive, soul-destroying melting pot.
We know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others on social media, but it’s pretty damn hard when every other photo we scroll past seems to be of a perfect-bodied, flawless-skinned influencer promoting a product we could never afford.
Our friends seem to be constantly announcing their pregnancies, promotions, engagements and weight-loss wins. They have tons of supportive friends and exciting life experiences.
We can’t help but compare our lives to theirs and think “why do I not have what they have? Their life is so much better than mine.”
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”― Steven Furtick
Comparison to others is a fundamental human instinct – but social media perpetuates comparison culture in a way that is damaging to our mental health and self-esteem. That’s because we’re often comparing our real life to somebody else’s fake one.
I used to be a sucker for social media envy. A photo of my friends simply having a good time would be enough to stir up feelings of inadequacy and failure. I’d sink into my familiar pit of bed-ridden depression, ruminating about how much my life sucked compared to everyone else’s.
A few days later I’d drag myself out of bed, knock back whatever vice I was addicted to, make myself up and post a smiling picture of me #livingmybestlife.
If you get social media envy to the point where it affects your mental health, it’s time to start being more mindful of how you use it. Here are some things you can do to stop comparing yourself to others on social media
Reduce Your Social Media Usage
I’ve deactivated and reactivated Instagram enough times to know that ‘just delete it’ isn’t the most sustainable advice (even if it’s probably the best!) However, the more time you spend on social media, the more likely you are to be negatively affected by comparison culture.
Cutting down on your social media use can reduce depression, loneliness and FOMO – because rather than watching life through a screen, you’re actually out there living it!
You can reduce your social media usage in a variety of different ways. For example, you could:
♡ Use an app to monitor your social media use and aim to lower your average time per day
♡ Turn your phone off for an hour or two each day
♡ Commit to a day or week-long social media detox
Or you can do what I do and deactivate Instagram every time it pisses you off 😂
Unfollow and Delete!
Take back control of your social media experience by controlling what you see online.
Let’s be honest – there are just some people or posts on social media who never fail to trigger your insecurities. Hiding or unfollowing them – even if it’s just temporarily – can calm down anxiety and reduce rumination.
This will give you the headspace you need to actually work on your insecurities.
Optimise Your Feed
Now that you’ve eradicated all the triggers and toxicity from your social media accounts, it’s time to fill them with positivity instead.
Follow people that inspire and motivate you rather than people who just make you feel bad about yourself. Fill your feeds with inspirational quotes, posts and feel-good pictures, things that actually make you happy!
It’s crazy how much of a difference cute puppy photos can make to our mental health.
Remember That Social Media Doesn’t Reflect Reality
I repeat: SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN’T REFLECT REALITY. Still not convinced? Here are some truths I think you need reminding of:
♡ Nobody is posting their failures.
♡ That ‘perfect-selfie’ was the only one that made the cut out of a hundred – and it was still edited and filtered.
♡ Everyone strategically puts the best version of themselves on their social media.
♡ People can have thousands of followers but still feel completely alone.
♡ “The more miserable you are, the happier your posts will be” – according to Jessica Stillman and this awesome Twitter thread.
Use Social Media To Actually Socialise
Hear me out.
Passive social media use (AKA: mindless scrolling and silent lurking) has been linked to depression and isolation, whereas active social media use has been linked to decreased depression symptoms. This is because positive engagement evokes positive emotions – and leaves less space for pesky rumination.
So, be more active in your engagement with social media. Write nice comments, offer support, join new groups, make new connections and rebuild old ones.
Hopefully you’ll find – just like I did – that you’re too busy having positive interactions to compare yourself to others.
Replace Your Scrolling Habit
If you’re an anxious scroller, try out one of these 20 self-soothing activities for anxiety.
Confront Your Green-Eyed Monster
While doing all of the above will help you to stop comparing yourself to others on social media, it won’t eradicate those niggling feelings of inadequacy and envy.
Why? Because there’s no external solution to insecurity.
Comparison and jealousy are born from insecurity. If you really want to be free of social media envy, you need to acknowledge and confront the parts of yourself and your life that you aren’t happy with.
If your friend’s bikini-ready body triggers your comparison-critic, try creating a new fitness regime. If it’s their luxurious holiday, devise a new saving plan. Practise self-love affirmations and make more time for self-care. Affirm your values and make them a priority.
Heathline has a really good article on reducing insecurity and building self-esteem that you should definitely check out.
Focus On Yourself
Instead of worrying about what other people are doing, focus on yourself – for yourself.
The only person you should strive to compete with is the person you were yesterday.
Nobody has taken the same journey in life as you have, so how can you compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20?
Remember that you are magnificently unique. Live life to the beat of your own drum and compare yourself to nobody but the person you were yesterday.
Hone your skills. Follow your dreams. Let the real you flourish unashamedly. Life becomes better when you do.
Are you affected by social media envy? Any tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others on social media (or IRL?) Let me know n the comments down below.