Instagram recently decided it was going to eliminate like counts. The idea is that you’ll still be able to curate your feed and have everything you love but without the competitive edge of seeing just how popular some users are.
Although it doesn’t solve all of our social media problems it certainly makes us reevaluate our relationships within the social hierarchy. And that’s honestly the antithesis of what social media should be but that’s also what it is. Social media is a competition in so many ways when it really shouldn’t be.
Social media should be about connecting with those around you — especially with those of whom you cannot see everyday. But for many, it’s the opposite; social media has become a glossy reminder of how much better everybody else is.
Social Media is Curated but Life is 24/7
One of the first things I forget is that the amount of time I spend on making uploads is probably just the same everybody else. Nobody takes just one picture these days and those that do tend to Photoshop them from here to Narnia.
Most people have a very specific image that they want to portray to the world and that skewed view is what you see. Instagram isn’t a random selection of pictures, it’s a narrative built to impress you. Every time you see an image you don’t get to see the time and effort someone has put into making it. You don’t see the camera roll with dozens of selfies before finding that perfect one and you don’t see the editing to find just the right balance of brightness and contrast.
Everyone has a version of themselves ans social media is the version they’d like the world to see. This isn’t something restricted to influencers or celebrities — everyone has a version of themselves they want to prove is their best self. It’s hard not to get discouraged when you’re only ever seeing the best version of someone else.
What I Struggle with Most
Is not just understanding that social media isn’t the everyday but also that it’s not a reason to compare myself. I grew up in a very classic Asian household. What that means is I was brought up in the type of household where compliments were only every paid when you weren’t in the room. Your classic conversations were more along the line of how you compare to others.
The scale of success was how I measured in comparison to my immediate family. The reasoning was because when you’re compared to people with a similar upbringing you can see where you’ve failed and where you’ve succeeded.
My family is a family of immigrants so the thing we wanted most was stability. For that reason, the typical modes of success are the products of hard sciences and maths. If you’re not a doctor or a lawyer…it’s not just about success, it’s about failing at being able to provide. Success was a very rigid measure in my household because those were the areas known to work no matter what.
What this meant for my mental health was that because I pursued other studies I was never going to be a part of the successful group of people I knew. It didn’t matter if I was doing well in my field, I wasn’t doing what could’ve been the best.
Now that social media is at the tip of my fingers every glossy image of success is another example of what I could have had. It doesn’t matter that I have more vacations or more pay, what matters is that it’s not a guarantee, and that lack of stability is a form of insecurity. The more someone is secure in their life the more I’m insecure about mine.
But Someone’s Success Doesn’t Detract From Yours
Comparing yourself to others can be successful when it’s healthy. But thinking of yourself as lesser because someone else is succeeding doesn’t make sense. Just because someone else shines doesn’t mean you don’t also shine. It’s almost a guarantee that everybody else’s shine will be different anyhow.
Life isn’t a competition, everybody has ups and downs and they shouldn’t detract from someone else’s. And at the end of the day being positive will only ever be positive for everybody else. Competition is meant to make you all better, not make your life miserable.
You push each other forward by trying to make each other improve. Being able to see everybody’s life all the time isn’t just about having access to someone’s successes and how they’re different from yours but also motivating yourself to live the life you think you’ve decided is successful. Use that energy to find what things you enjoy or envy and strive for that and forget about the idea that someone was just handed that success story. They had to work for it too so allow yourself the patience and the determination to make it happen rather than comparing yourself to the lie you’ve made up in your head.
Nothing in life is easy and comparing yourself to a lie won’t make it easier.
Everybody’s life just seems perfect because you’re so bombarded by perfection all the time. When it comes from all directions it’s hard to take a step back and remember there’s more to the story than the final product. Everyone is just as imperfectly perfect as you are. What’s key is remembering you can’t tell a whole story with a single photo and it doesn’t matter how pretty it is.