The comparison game has become a whole lot easier these past few years. We used to have to wonder what someone was doing with their time. If she really worked out every day. What he ate for lunch.
We wondered if our friends were having fun without us. We had to wait until we had coffee to catch up.
NOW WE KNOW IT ALL INSTANTLY.
Many thanks to Facebook and Instagram, we are in the know immediately. We have very little to catch up on now and we know instantly that we weren’t invited to the party. In fact, social media has simply changed the way we live. We used to look outside or run downstairs in the morning to find out the weather from our local, hardcopy newspaper. Now we check Facebook. Was that an earthquake? We’d have to walk outside and ask our neighbors. We used to wait for the news to come on to hear the news.
Now, we check Facebook. Right? Facebook tells all and tells it immediately.
This clearance into so many peoples’ lives just can’t always be good for us – especially in the comparing game. Especially if you are prone to compare yourself to another and find yourself coming up short… or even finding yourself feeling better because you think you’re better. Social Media can be a source of envy and sadness BUT it can be a source for inspiration and good.
My favorite hobby right now, for better or worse, is Instagram. I have had to go in and out of “fasting” from it when my heart wasn’t in the right place. For the past few years, though, my heart has landed on a good spot and I feel compelled to share with you – you who may be struggling with online comparison – a few things that have helped me.
1. Pay attention. Pay attention to your feelings. Do you feel fine before Facebook and worse after? Do you creep around, looking at people who you don’t even know (or DO know) just to…how do you say…fantasize? For me, this might be looking at minor celebrities (I mean Lauren Scruggs is the coolest!) and their super cool lifestyle. I start wondering where my Beemer is and why I don’t have an infinity pool in my backyard. 😉 Thus leading to a moment of disillusionment.
2. Have you become a critic? Perhaps you aren’t explicitly comparing yourself to someone else on social media, but you have become the Simon Cowell of FB. “She posts too much.” “Why would ANYONE post that?” “If she posts another picture of her pet pig again, I will cry.” “UGH. She took another under water while juggling hot coals yoga class today.” To which I say – YOU ARE COMPARING. And your comparison has lead you to believe you are better than that person. You may need to swallow a little pride before logging on next time.
3. Don’t lose your mind. You may think you HAVE to be on social media. That showing up on Facebook or Instagram is like being at a party you don’t want to miss. But let’s be honest, apart from seeing my kids and your dog, there really isn’t too much going on. It’s OK to step away, to take a deep breath, and remember you don’t have to be online all the time.
Never compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides. – Anne Lamott
Most of the time, Social Media is “outsides.” Not that it’s not true, it’s just not the entire story. Life’s portrayal is unbalanced on Social Media.
For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder . . . James 3:16
But wait! There’s more. The reason I have grown to love social media – especially now as we are putting the new in new jersey – is because I get to stay in touch with others and because I can let my friends’ lives inspire me. And encourage me. I love to follow photographers and bloggers and moms and grandparents and friends who love their pets and hardworking men and women and pastors and ministers because they inspire me. I get lost and befuddled if I start comparing myself, but as I grow in believing God made me for a reason with a specific purpose, comparing myself loses its meaning. WHY would I compare myself to someone’s outsides, especially when my insides are anchored to Jesus Christ.
I encourage you, in social media and in life, to return to your own purpose. Pray and ask the Lord to remind you of your purpose. And then believe and act. Believe that God’s purpose and design for your life has meaning. That your life – yes YOURS – was created for a reason, one that God, the Creator of the Universe believed was important.
My final suggestions, find a worthy grid and look through it. Before the next time you feel the comparison bug arise, find a grid that helps you prioritize. This is my grid:
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
If you find yourself online feeling worse about yourself or better, but NOT inspired to go out and be who you are supposed to be, in the immortal words of Liz Lemon, it’s a “DEAL BREAKER.” Time to get off and go have a real conversation with a human friend. But if you’re ready to do so, enjoy the outlet and be open to using Social Media to inspire you.
You wouldn’t know this from social media, but I unknowingly had poop on my sleeve from one of my sons while I was taking this picture. #beinspired