I have been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately. While much of what I do on Pinterest is related to the work that I do (my fancy new Pinterest page) I can’t help but occasionally fall down the rabbit hole of fabulous decor, scrumptious recipes and incredibly impressive crafts (have you seen what some people can do with stuff from the dollar store?!?!). Social media has given us access to so much information including how other people appear to live their lives. While in the pre-social media era, we would only get brief glimpses into the lives of our friends and neighbours, now it feels like we have an all-access pass. We see how people decorate, vacation, the meals that they make, the pet names they call their partners, their children’s accomplishments. We are privy to the joys in people’s lives and sometimes even their tragedies. However, is all this information a good thing?
One of the problems with having all of this access to other people’s lives is that it can set the stage for some unfair comparisons. We start to compare our own lives, which we have an intimate knowledge of, to the sanitized, highlights reel of someone else’s. If we are struggling in our own romantic relationship, it can be heart wrenching to read a friend posting about the amazing anniversary surprise she received from her partner. If we are feeling overwhelmed with the clutter and chaos in our own home, someone’s pictures of their freshly renovated, gleaming kitchen can make us feel like we are living in filth. If we are feeling lonely and come across pictures from the most recent girls’ night out (your invite must have got lost in the mail), this can make us feel like we will never find our place. However, it is likely that all of those people who are posting these fabulous parts of their lives, are experiencing their own struggles. Look through your own social media accounts; what do people probably think about your life? Given that social media isn’t going away anytime soon, how can we moderate its impact on how we feel about ourselves?
- Have an awareness that a few posts on Facebook or Twitter is not the whole picture about another person’s life. Do not compare your entire life, with its ups and downs, good and bad parts, with someone’s sanitized version of their life. You will never win that comparison.
- Acknowledge that your own online media presence may not be the full version of yourself. If you’re only selecting certain things to post about, it is likely that others are doing the same. This is a good thing! We need to be selective about what we choose to share about ourselves and maintain some level of privacy.
- If you find that being on certain social media is making you feel depressed or anxious, it may be a good idea to take a break. Check in with how you are feeling after spending some time on social media. If your mood is being negatively affected, that may be a sign that it’s time to step away from the screen.
- Go interact with your friends and family offline. Give someone a call or set-up a coffee date. People tend to be more genuine with each other in person than over the computer and it’s a great way to connect with the people in your life. You may discover that the person with the fabulously renovated kitchen is struggling with something else in their lives.
- Accept that your skills and strengths many not match up with someone else’s. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an amazing crafter who posts their creations on Pinterest, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be one as well. We all have things that we are good at and enjoy.
There is no debate that social media has a tremendous impact on our lives, but we need to ensure that we are protecting ourselves from the possible downfalls.