Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you compared yourself to another person on social media? It is quite typical among humans; we evaluate our abilities and personalities according to those playing a significant role around us.
Comparison is the thief of joy and a common feature of human social life. These basic human tendencies of comparing themselves to others emerge from the desire for self-evaluation. Social comparison has molded our perception and attitude on matters regarding the modern social circle.
This article will expand your understanding of the result of social comparison and how it affects self-evaluation.
Emotional Consequences of Comparing Yourself to Strangers on Social Networks
The regular use of social networks has sparked debates over the effect of social media on mental health. Parents and psychologists have voiced their concerns over social media and its incentive on young people. The emotional outcome of scrolling through your feed and concluding things about strangers’ lifestyles can trigger obsessive comparison.
Social media users are likely to adopt different social experiences that can harm their psychological well-being. Social information encountered on social media platforms varies according to the visited. Platforms that use visual content like Instagram are likely to trigger such emotions than other sites like twitter that are text-central social network platforms.
Psychologists link social media to mental health problems in younger adults; exposure to social media content has also played a role in reducing depressive and self-doubt emotions. Social networking is not all unhealthy for young adults, as perceived.
Research shows that it can trigger positive emotions and motivation according to how the reader receives the information. Here are some adverse emotional effects linked to comparing self to others on social media.
Obsessive Comparison Disorder – OCD is a mental illness associated with a strong compulsion to compare self to others. Psychologists have strongly linked this disorder to social network sites.
Individuals suffering from OCD are characterized by anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and distress.
Self-loathe– Young people’s social-development experiences are developed through interactions with other people of the same age and social status. The availability of social networks tunes them to presume the world differently.
Most users reportedly measure self-worth on social media according to the number of likes and comments. Some of these influencers and famous people exhibit very luxurious lifestyles that might trigger self-doubt and self-loathe.
Development of Self-affirmation personality– Individuals may emotionally respond to these comparisons by browsing through their social network platforms and edit the content to fit those they idolize. These can lead to moral deterioration as young people may adapt and copy characters and users who exhibit immoral lifestyles.
Peer pleasure is a leading moral fiber among young people and adults; social media users might mimic users’ activities to boost their self-presentation. Most Social media users value feedback from fellow peers; they use the information to evaluate their self-worth. Positive feedback will boost an Individual ego and quench their self-doubt.
How Social Media Comparison Triggers Self-Doubt
Comparison impacts negatively on the proficiency and performance of individuals. Psychologists believe that people rely on comparisons to evaluate their capacities accurately. The more you compare your abilities and proficiency to others, the more you influence yourself against your own beliefs, dignity, and enthusiasm.
Social media comparison can promote a sense of inferiority, and such changes may trigger negative emotions and self-doubt.
The need for positive self-presentation on social network sites is high among young people. Researchers suggest that; young adults have tendencies to compare themselves to other people and these network sites provide them with an accessible channel for social comparisons. Young people feel the need to express their success, self-worth, and happiness on these platforms to perceive themselves as socially fit.
In an era where social media defines our success and failure, it is relatively easy to feel like you are not doing enough in society. We tend to compare our progressive journey with other people’s success instead of working on ours. Social media induced-doubt can be toxic and may turn a confident individual into an anxious and self-doubting person.
Self-Disclosure and Self-Presentation on Social Media
Self-esteem can be restrained by social comparison and that, access to social media gives people the capacity to thrive on social comparison. With the increase of social network popularity among peers, self-evaluation and self-presentation have taken a new root.
Online presentation differs from face-to-face presentation and communication. Social media platforms give users the ability and freedom to express and present themselves in a way they prefer. Most people choose to show the ideal picture of a better and socially appropriate version of themselves on social networks.
In recent times, communication has changed course from physical interaction to online interactions. People choose to share content that might come off as self-enhancing to their friends. Following and imitating strangers online can lead to negative results.
Since self-presentation plays a significant role in self-image, how we portray ourselves in an online setting can say a lot about us. However, research concludes that People with lower self-concept are likely to exhibit divergence between their offline and online lifestyle.
Social networks have opened possibilities to share personal information with the rest of the world. Most users get motivated by other posts on these sites and decide to share their own experiences. Giving other people information about ourselves is healthy and creates a secure environment.
However, sharing intimate details on social networks can work against you and your personal information.
Once information is online, it can be challenging to take it down or make it disappear. It is why you should be cautious about how much you are sharing online. Do not share information to compare yourself to another user; only share information worth being out there. Most of the users portraying a perfect image are doing it for the cameras.
Social Comparison Processes in Health and Illness on Social Networks
Social comparison principles can also be applied in the health profession; this is where an individual fails to understand their psychological or physical ailments and opts for comparison to counteract the chance of a negative outcome in their situation.
Studies show that people suffering from specific disorders will compare their symptoms to others on social platforms. In turn, they make decisions on appropriate preventive measures according to their social media counterparts’ experiences. Individuals with ailments can also approach people suffering the same ordeals to explain various symptoms and ways to deal with it.
The comparison culture of health and illness can also be self-destructive and take a nosedive. Comparison can be the root cause of a self-inflicted life of unhappiness when you start comparing your chronic condition to other people’s healthy lives. It can go out of hand and turn your worries into a series of questions. You may develop self-loathe emotions wondering why you are not able to get better when others can.
The Effects of Self-Comparison
There are positive and negative effects associated with social comparison. While it’s uncommon to feel like other people have their life all figured out, it is also unhealthy to your social life and mental health.
Resentment Towards People
At the center of resentment lies social comparison. It goes to show that intense emotions can trigger extreme jealousy and hatred towards other people. You may start developing hatred towards people you think are better than you.
When you compare yourself to them, you create negative feelings against them, concluding that you haven’t cracked it in life. Sometimes it is hard to notice when the hate is building up.
Develop Pride and Boastfulness
People with self-doubt tendencies can sometimes develop a boastful personality to help them feel good about themselves.
The character of boastfulness includes talking too much about your accomplishments and what you are capable of achieving. Such names are likely to feel better after a rant of how perfect they presume themselves to be.
Loss of Uniqueness
Losing yourself trying to please others is among the effects of comparing yourself to others. An individual will adopt a lifestyle to fit the people they idolize on social media sites. They can also develop competing characters that might place them in a negative frame of mind ruining them in the long run.
Low Self-esteem and Depression
Low self-esteem and Depression can emerge from the impact of social comparison. Psychology determines that most people deduce their self-worth based on their comparison with their circle.
Unfortunately, phones have become pretty much our daily necessity; of course, you will scroll through social media once in a while. If you can learn ways to decrease your time on social networks, it might facilitate neuroticism.
Self-Evaluation Maintenance Model
This evaluation model is based on two broad spectra: individuals who retain positive evaluations of themselves and those who evaluate themselves by accomplishing people around them. These individuals employ other people’s success to validate their ego.
The reflection process is standard in most of us; we gain self-esteem and boost our self-evaluation by performing better than the other person. Basking in other people’s reflected glory also alleviates an individual’s maintenance model. This aspect psychologically connects and identifies variables that can impact positively on their perception of themselves.
Reasons Why We Compare Ourselves to Others
It is quite natural for human beings to assess our environment and pick up habitual habits to make us feel better about ourselves.
1. Low Self-Confidence
Low self-confidence and self-esteem can trigger you to look for individuals you can feel superior toward in the hopes of boosting your ego promoting self-confidence. Comparing yourself to others can work against you because you may come across social media people who make you feel inferior.
2. You Grew up Getting Compared to Others
The environment you grew up in can also be a leading factor in social comparison. If you grew up getting compared to others, your mind is already programmed to compare yourself. Many parents adopt this habit intending to motivate their kids. This move can be detrimental in the future.
3. You are not in Control of Your Life
Life has unexpected challenges; there are times when you feel like you are not in control, and there are those times you feel in charge. Since our minds are programmed to look at success In a certain way, we assume that we haven’t made it without a degree and the right home, a well-paying job. But the good news is we can define our success.
Breaking the Habit of Comparing Yourself with Others on Social Networks
Comparisons involve analyzing the innate drive to evaluate you. It is a natural emotion in all of us, especially with social networks; we remain plugged into the digital world. However, it gets dreadful when your mental health is involved.
1. Become Intimately Aware of your Success
It is essential to acknowledge that we all have unique standpoints, different abilities, and experiences. We all can love and appreciate our little efforts and accomplishments. Everyone is unique in their ways and battles with their demons. Comparing yourself to them is illogical; however, you can positively drive motivation from them and push yourself to do more.
2. Take Time Off Social Media and Detox
Social media has been widely linked to mental health illnesses that can lower self-confidence. Spending time on social media networks can trigger self-conscious emotions of their physical appearance, social, and financial status.
With most social media users presenting themselves as perfect to the public eye, it is common to feel like you are not doi9ng quite enough. Steering clear from social networks for some time can help you curtail, if not eliminate, the toxic culture of comparison.
Remember, social media users use photoshopped and filtered pictures. So the next time you feel dissatisfied with yourself, remember that their social networks are not an indication of who they are in person.
3. Focus on Greater Things in Life
Instead of trying to compete with others, try to focus on other areas of your life. Try to evaluate how much you were not able to achieve last year that you have this year. You can also consider yourself incomparable instead of wishing you were them. Work on your insecurities and become a better version of yourself.
Channel that energy at your workplace or home and learn to express gratitude for the little things and how far you have come.
4. Overcoming Your Emotions and Decluttering Your Mind
Start by taking note of what triggers low-self-esteem and understand the reason behind why you feel the need to compare yourself with others. Try to build your confidence and self-esteem. You can also write a journal on your experiences and what you would like to change.
Social comparison is an enveloping phenomenon that can be hard to regulate. It may take a while to shake off the need to compare you to others. However, if you dedicate and adopt new ways of solving this mental problem, you will be free from the shags of self-comparison.
5. Be Intentional about Who You Follow
As we navigate through significant points in our social life, social network sites play a massive role. The people you follow on social networks can also be a root cause for the comparison. In this modern world, where social networks manipulate us and our lifestyle, be cautious of who you follow and pay attention to what emotions they spur in you.
Users who portray positive vibes can trigger positive emotions and motivation. As mentioned earlier, social media is not a horrible platform. Our human emotions tend to craft our ideal picture of what we think is best and what we don’t. In addition to that, regular use can delve you deeper into the web of social media, and the addiction might drive you to make unnecessary decisions.
6. Figure out What Triggers Comparisons
If a particular person is triggering your comparison, pay attention to what spurs the comparison and if it is something you can change. You can opt to unfollow the individuals and focus on yourself. Youths can curtail the impact of comparison cultures if they conform to healthy ways to deal with it.
Like most habits, comparing yourself to others can either be healthy or detrimental, depending on your approach. Before we condemn social media for triggering such emotions, a healthy approach to comparing yourself to others can be a source of inspiration and motivation to work and improve on you.
We all struggle with insecurities because we compare our real-life situations with other people’s highlight reel on social platforms. Comparison is the thief of joy, and weighing yourself against others is an automatic psychological habit that is hard to control.
However, If you ever feel the need to compare yourself to a social media user, follow these simple directives and take charge of your emotions. Be a step ahead on breaking the cycle of comparison and self-doubt.