We’re all guilty of it. One of the “suggested friends,” caught your eye and before you knew it, a friend of a friend of a friend later, you found yourself on the page of some chick from Saskatoon, who may or may not know your ex roommate’s oldest sister, and gosh she looks, like, really cool. You scroll through her timeline, flip through a couple photos, and begin to ask yourself, “Why don’t I have pictures from Saint Barts? Why haven’t I ever even been to Saint Barts?” Suddenly you’re hit by a wave of self-doubt. “Why am I staying in on a Friday night when she is clearly having an amazing time at a club?”
From Facebook to Instagram, it’s easy to get caught up in the virtual world of social media. I’ll admit I’ve lost hours needlessly engaged in the lives of people I hardly know in person. Facebook can be an amazing way to network, keep in contact with old and new friends, and to share stories from your life with those you care about, but comparing yourself to others on Facebook quickly becomes toxic. When you slip into the downward spiral of Facebook stalking, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help keep your head above water.
The first point is seemingly obvious but often overlooked in our countless hours of stalking. Anyone can make their profile exactly what they want it to be. And in reality, they do become an idealized version of ourselves. Everything on a person’s timeline or Instagram feed could – and probably has been – highly edited, carefully selected, and heavily monitored. A cool picture does not equal a cool person.
The things people choose to share are not only filtered to the third degree, but they are also (understandably), going to be the highlights of this person’s life! Of course, there are exceptions – some people even use social media to reach out to loved ones in times of need. But the majority of posts you see are there because they are proud of this moment and want the world to know. In a way, this is the beauty of social media – it allows us to create an alternate and glorified identity in the virtual world.
But in terms of reality, when you see a person’s social media presence, you are looking at the very best of their moments, images, and accomplishments. How can you compare yourself as a dynamic human being to some highly edited snapshots of someone at their best and only their best?! It’s not real.
I find it important to connect with people on Facebook; I genuinely enjoy following life stories of my friends and connections. But innocent Facebook browsing can quickly become toxic, when comparing yourself to a friend on social media leaves you feeling unsatisfactory, self-deprecating, and negative. Before you start feeling bad about your life in reaction to someone’s social media presence, ask yourself what it is that appeals to you about their profile – and instead of feeling jealous, take a moment to reimagine your own life. This is an opportunity to log out, turn off your phone, and expand your world outside of the virtual.