Conquering “Social Media Envy”
I’ve been reading a few articles lately about how social media has evolved and its impact on our culture. So the topic interested me as an active personal and business page user. And wow, at Facebook, have you noticed that there seems to be a lot more voice-over related groups?
Consider the number of sites and how social media has become big business. Now we see slews of ads. Many are spawned from our browser searches. And you can boost your posts to a larger user base for a fee. So how many users tend to compare their lives with others on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Twitter, to see how their lives line up. And how many end up with jealous and/or depressed moods after they engage?
History of Social Comparison
There was a study written in the 1950s written by American social psychologist Leon Festinger called, “social comparison theory”. I guess that’s when the expression, “keeping up with the Jones’ ” began. Sure, it’s human nature that we look to others to see how we’ve progressed in life. But now, we have digital technologies that are steadily feeding our psyches through the use of our digital devices, conveniently nested in our pockets, several times a day.
The DailyMail, a website in the UK claims experts warn that social media leaves addicts ‘trapped in an endless cycle of depression. Which kind of makes the case for:
- The more time spent increases likelihood of depression
- Social media sites could be fueling internet addiction
- Usage can lead to feelings of envy and regret due to wasted time
A survey of approximately 1800 US adults aged 18-32 revealed they use social media about 61 minutes per day, and visit about 30 social media accounts in a week.
The Social Juggernaut
It’s obvious that Social media has evolved into a major component of human interaction. Indications also hint that some depressed individuals use it to fill a void It’s like a double edged sword. The prolonged and higher usage seems to create ill feelings over wasted time spent.
Because I’m a huge productivity nut, I believe my time is best spent minding what’s going on in my own voice over studio, not someone else’s. As a result, I’ll limit my Facebook time to no more than 10-20 minutes per day, if that. I don’t get to Twitter every day. And LinkedIn is great for business engagement. Once again, get in and get out as quickly as possible with 1-2 posts per day.
The highly idealized representations of peers on social media may elicit feelings of envy and a belief that everyone else is leading a happier and more successful life.
So far there are not enough comprehensive studies to confirm this is what’s happened. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real problem. Because I’ve found it to be true with my own experience and several others I know, who have been honest enough to share.
Despite knowing that scrolling through Facebook for instance and learning that your peers have hit some huge milestone we also want to hit, we do it anyway. We post a photo or video of a cute kitty and return check our “likes” to feel validated by the number of likes or responses we get. I try to get out before I spend too much of my time. I always check to see who I can wish a happy birthday, and try to spread a little happiness, support a friend, post a nature photo or share something interesting or fun. And never, never post political or snarky comments.
Social comparison is a natural part of being human. But because it’s human doesn’t mean we can’t take it too far. Facebook posts started as simple communications with friends and family near and far. Posts have now evolved into in many ways, a platform for sharing, checking in, and amplifying moments, expertly and possibly deceptively staged.
Are They Bragging Or Branding? Or both?
Karen North, a Ph.D. and clinical professor of the digital social media program at USC’s school of communication and journalism program says that Facebook is now a “PR machine”. It’s become a vessel for ensuring others see our lives as picture-perfect, which never displays inevitable setbacks or flaws. What we mostly see are highlight reels of people’s lives and the ways they want to share their experiences.
Avoid Social Media Jealousy
So North urges people to take others social media with a grain of salt. And don’t have yourself a social media self induced pity party. Next time you feel blue after hanging out too long online on a social media site. And so, North says, “Remember that nothing is ever as perfect as it seems. “