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Social media and your “Friends” and “Followers”: Franklin D. Roosevelt’s statement, “Comparison is t

Social media has now taken on a life of its own. What started out “back in my day” as young individuals quickly checking in to Myspace has now evolved to children, parents, friends, and families checking in to their multiple social media accounts several times a day, and oftentimes, in the presence of each other. Man, what have all my “friends” been up to today? How about my favorite celebrities? How many minutes, or even hours possibly, do you think you spend a day checking up on your friends and those you follow? How much time out of your day is spent going through your news feed and seeing what everyone is up to? Now consider this: You just witnessed the highlight reel, and what you did not see during your daily check in was 99% of your friend’s day, week, home life, work life, etc.

You saw the highlights. You were privy to the job promotion, the amazing beach vacation, the celebrated wedding anniversary, the awesome birthday celebration, or the cute selfie of the day. What you did not see was most of the ins and outs of what I hear in my office, which is the year-long job search that seemed endless, the wedding anniversary of a couple that has been in couples counseling for months and has been struggling to stay together (the Facebook posts of course don’t say this), and the thirty selfies that were taken before that one, “Let me take a selfie,” picture was posted. Oh and yes, posted after being edited or filtered.

This is not to say we shouldn’t celebrate our achievements and be genuinely happy for our family members and friends when great things are happening. The daily pictures of the children, pets, vacations, and celebrations are a joy, and I, too, am in the habit of positing my accomplishments and achievements.

What I am seeing in my office, however, is an abundance of comparisons. It appears, “Everyone else has it together but me.” It can appear as though your friends just landed the greatest jobs in town, married the best partners in the world, and everyone is reaching their goals. Those that you “follow” are so attractive, talented, and successful. You, on the other hand, are struggling. However, we all go through the same daily struggles. In fact, comparing ourselves to what is happening in the social media world can lead to an internal conflict where we struggle with our own self-image and self-worth. Feelings of sadness and depression may follow. Comparing ourselves to others can lead to thoughts of feeling less-than, not sexy enough, not “cool” enough, or that what we do have is not up to par. We may think that what we do experience is not “normal” or not what most people are experiencing.

I will leave you with this reminder. Life is beautiful, and it is messy. We are all human. We struggle and make sacrifices before we succeed. Sometimes life becomes easy, and then it becomes hard again. Most of us are posting about the easy parts, and we are presenting our best selves. The harder part would be exposing 99% of the day and the trials and tribulations of being human. Try not to compare your life to the filtered life on social media. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

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Photo taken by Monica Coulter in McKinney, Texas, 2016.

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