Comparison and contentment are separate feelings that work together in our bid to self- evaluate. For your people, managing both feelings can play a huge role in how we feel about ourselves. But social media bliss (i.e the perception of success on social media) continues to bring up the rhetorical question of “to be or not to be?” And this post is my attempt at discussing this salient phenomena.
(Social media bliss in this writing refers to the success, milestones, and achievement that are publicly shared online. Most times, these celebratory post can drive viewers to envy, unintended behaviors, comparison, anxiety, and depression).The list is endless.
Most thoughts shared today, are a result of reflecting during my long, and usually needed social media breaks.
But growing up, the need to compare ourselves with our peers was normalized with cultural innuendos. For example, parents will often retort to a child’s poor performance by voicing, “do your classmate who came first have two heads?”—-@t2pitchy
Comparison and Contentment
One does not escape the incessant need to constantly compare themselves with others. It did not begin with social media, although these platforms have heightened it. But growing up as a Nigerian child, the need to compare ourselves with our peers was normalized with cultural innuendos. For example, parents will often retort to a child’s poor performance by voicing “does your classmate who came first have two heads?” or “can’t you copy what they’re doing?” These have gone on for years unchallenged and have had negative impacts on how I, and other kids who grew up under similar voice, view ourselves.
The sullen face of defeat, of not being good enough when placed alongside our peers, brings us to a phase in our lives where we are never really content. It became a constant feeling to look over my shoulders, to see how I measured alongside other people.
But social media bliss has exacerbated the need to compare ourselves with others and be less content with our portion. Sadder, is that few secular spaces exist to discuss and find solutions to how we feel about contentment (At least that was what I found out during my quick research for this post).
Comparison not only robs us of our joy but increases anxiety. I am not writing in third person phrases to exempt myself from this feeling. But I’ve found myself taking more social media breaks this year, so I don’t fall apart by comparing my life with some random person online.
The Impact of Comparison on Your Mental Health
There are so many negative impacts of comparison, that it trumps whatever positive inclination the word has. Like increased anxiousness, depression and poor performance.
Our parent’s generation were lucky enough not to have access to the success rate of their peers globally. It helped them design their life and success and at their own pace. Because of that, they had higher chances of achieving the big things they did.
Comparison stalls you because you are not focused on your vision, and you spend time feeling worse about yourself, while performing for people who do not care for your actions. Truthfully, there is nothing wrong with wanting good things, but it should not be because we are pressured by what we see online.
5 Ways to Reduce Comparison:
- Being thankful for little things: by appreciating little things like a roof over my head, good health, and comfortable living, I can see how good I have it.
- Social Media Breaks: I’ve noticed that the less time I spend on social media, the better it is for my overall mental health. I also start to gain a better perspective of what success is to me, and how I can achieve that.
- Focusing on my Strengths: I can look at what I do best and feel content. Sometimes it takes writing it down to affirm what you’re good at. For example, I am a good writer, I am good at photography, and design. And the list is endless.
- Define your own Success: Define what success means to you. By doing so, you retrieve your agency, which without, deprives you of your own validation. Your terms of success might be adjacent and unfamiliar, but it should be on your own terms.
- Have a Mind of your Own: Social media has made a lot of us monolith thinkers. And with that the need to mirror our lifestyle to reflect a collective idea. There is no faster way to drive yourself to the ground, than following someone else’s shadow.
There is no much literature to cite on comparison and contentment, but I’m sure people with psychological or behavioral studies would know more. Read my previous post here, on dealing with social media anxiety. Also, as Nigerians will say, don’t let anyone rush you. Everything will be beautiful in it’s own time, just put in the work.
When you think of comparison and contentment, what comes to mind? I want to know in the comment session. Follow the discussion on my social media handles.
Updated: Shoutout to Evelyn who read this post and recommended “The Comparing Trap” from Harvard Business Review.