Vlog: Do You Compare Yourself To Others You See on Facebook, Instagram, etc?

January 19, 2014


Remember when comparing yourself to another’s life (especially their life as carefully CONSTRUCTED via Facebook or Instagram, etc.) to keep in mind that everything SEEMS better when you are looking in from the outside.

People (you, me, us, all of us) choose what they want the world to see and how they want it to be interpreted. When you read a memoir or a (my) personal essay, it is NOT a diary entry. Each word has been carefully thought out and crafted.

Whenever you have feelings of unworthiness—whether towards your body, career, lack of career, bank account, children, lack of children, spouse, lack of spouse, travel as compared to someone else’s—remember this:

You have no idea what the person’s life you are comparing yourself to is really like.

When the doors are closed. When the lights are off. When the computer is shut down. When they are depressed or scared or lonely or afraid.

The proverbial grass is always greener.

When in reality, it’s probably not. It’s probably yellow and needs watering. Yes, in some cases, in may actually be greener. A helluva lot greener.

But we’ll never really know. Not really. Not unless we are actually living that person’s life (which is an impossibility unless you are living in a Twilight Zone episode).

All I’m saying is to be careful what stories you make up—about yourself, about other people, about yourself in comparison to other people. About how great so-and-so’s life is.

Don’t let so-and-so’s “great life” make your own life feel irrelevant/small/sh*tty.

Social media (as much as I love it, and I do loooove it) can be a trap. You can sit here all day and look through photos and wish you had so-and-so’s life because it must be so nice to travel so much,

  • or have their “perfect” job,
  • or to be able to do all those crazy upside down fancy yoga poses they post on Instagram,
  • or, look how cute their kid is, so well behaved, always saying the darndest things,
  • or look how happy they are!
  • or, wow, they have ANOTHER book out, and I have one (or none) etc. etc.

It cheapens our lives and wastes our time when we do this. (This is a note to self as much as I am reminding all of us, as well. Excuse me while I tattoo this on my brain.)

I know that people sometimes compare themselves to me just as I am guilty of doing to other people. Look at your life, Jen. Must be nice. How many people do you think can realistically travel to the Galalpagos, Jen? was a recent comment on one of my photos from my Galapagos retreat on my Facebook. And when I am supposed to be working or writing, I instead sometimes sit here at my desk and look at all the writers who are more widely published, more this, more that.

Today, I ran into someone in the grocery store. I was in full shlumpadinka mode. (Thanks, Oprah, for that word. It’s a gem, and I borrow it often.) I looked distracted (I was) and pale, messy hair, mismatched socks. Things were falling out of my purse. I ran into someone who follows me on social media. “Hey Jen! Looks like everything in your life is amazing! I see all your posts. Your life. So amazing.” I probably had food in my teeth as I spoke to her.

I don’t post when I am having an anxiety attack or when I go to the bathroom or when I feel lousy and unworthy.

It can be a trap. (But hot damn, I love social media—just look at my Facebook page; look at that community I’ve cultivated.) So here I am. Here I will be. Posting away.

We just need to remember to look inward more than looking outward.

For the love of cliché, I just said that. I did. Look inward rather than outward.

Become aware when you are doing it—the comparison BS. The making up stories nonsense. The making yourself feel less than.

And be happy for people. Be really, really genuinely happy for people.

But don’t compare. And don’t assume.

And by all means, remember that almost everything you see on the internet is a careful construct.

Even this.

Jen will be leading a Manifestation Writing/Yoga retreat at Kripalu Center in Massachusetts in February 2014 as well as in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany in July 2014. She travels around the country leading her signature Manifestation Workshops. Check out her site for all retreat listings.

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  • Reply barbarapotter January 19, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    So, so , so true.

  • Reply nancysilverlake January 19, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    you said it perfectly … “a careful construct”. I do not care to be a careful construct, I want to be my genuine self. In realizing the addiction of social media …. including FB, I honed my means of being ‘in touch’. I am very careful where I put my energy.
    much love,

  • Reply multidimensionalsuchness January 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Not just social media but all of life is a construct and edited version of reality/whole. . If I tell you a story in person, I get to choose what to leave in and what to leave out. To the extent I edit out the bad stuff, I’m leading you to believe my life is perfect. Same with Facebook. If my hair is coiffed in every picture, if every post is about my latest accomplishment, then I’m not revealing my full/true self to the world. If however I post pictures that are not exactly flattering of my ass or hair, what I’m doing is inviting people to see more (never all) of the real me. What the receiver does with the info I project on the world is another matter altogether. Which is why your “look inward” remark is such an important reminder. I would add that if we can be happy with ourselves (warts and all) we can then be happy for whatever version of the truth others choose to project.

  • Reply Ana Guardado January 19, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    That is so true specially, when l use to hung out with my friend who was so small and beautiful, and little did I knew that she was so sick . here i was wishing to look like her, when the cancer was eating her up inside.

  • Reply Todd Lohenry January 20, 2014 at 4:51 am

    Reblogged this on BRIGHT, SHINY OBJECTS….

  • Reply Zee2Etch – Task #13 | Views Splash! January 20, 2014 at 9:14 am

    […] A Thought I Believe In […]

  • Reply Amy Roost January 20, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Just as everything we watch on TV news or read in papers (even the most objective) is edited (constructed) so too is everything we relate to and hear/see from others. What’s important in evaluating news is important in evaluating what others tell/show us, i.e. is it a source you trust?

    I think whether you measure yourself to the trusted source’s life, is a separate issue.

    You named the key, Jen: To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at our own life, we can be confident and fearless about looking at someone else’s life. We can also be happy for the successes and accomplishments of others rather than sad or bitter that the success has happened to someone else, not us.

  • Reply Danielle January 20, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Hahahahaha “wallow in our own suckery”!
    This advice is hard to remember, but it’s important! If you think about the few people whose secrets you DO know, it’s easy to read through their internet postings, and it’s probably safe to imagine that there are unseen secrets in everyone’s lives, not just the ones we know about.
    People aren’t necessarily doing anything wrong– it’s not like we want our friends whining about their debt along with pictures of their new house or car (and it’s not like we want to show the bad sides of ourselves, either). I’m thinking out loud and learning from your lesson that the real problem is the comparing, not the slanted posting!
    Thanks for making me think!

  • Reply ramakrishnan6002 January 20, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.

  • Reply etley enlightens January 21, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    yes, all the time! i’ve taken a little social media break for a couple weeks now & it has been a breath of fresh air! i feel like i live in the real world again – although i really do love social media!

  • Reply Mary Tracy January 26, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Jen, maybe you don’t post “when” you are “having an anxiety attack” or when you feel “lousy and unworthy”.
    I’ve been following for a while and unless I am very much mistaken, you do write about your anxiety attacks and when you felt lousy and unworthy.

    That’s what keeps me coming back to your work. You don’t just show the “amazing” in your life, but the “suckery” as well. And to me that’s priceless. Because it shows me a “full” life.

  • Reply Denise Dare (@DeniseDare43) January 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    So right on, Jen.

    Thank you for your authenticity…even when constructing. 🙂

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