Social Media and the Comparison Trap


Be honest- have you ever found yourself comparing your life with that of your friends on social media? I have. I’ve looked at photos, comments and updates and then thought to myself that comparatively, “my life is pretty dull.”

It’s my fault for comparing, falling into that comparison trap, because so often, people are sharing a very sanitized, glossy version of their lives where the murkier details are hidden, right along with any feelings of insecurity or inadequacy.

We’re great at sharing the highlights in our life, and not awful at sharing tragedies- it’s the run of the mill every day ‘grind’ we tend to keep hidden. Photos where you look less than great are edited out. Photos are cropped to exclude the ugly background. Filters are used to ensure our flaws are hidden or, at least, toned down.

When people post photos of their amazing new cars, incredible homes they’ve bought, the world trips they’ve taken, and they don’t tend to discuss debts and mortgages, which is totally normal. But I think it’s important to keep in mind when looking at people’s profiles and seeing things you may wish you had too, that chances are it isn’t as perfect as it all seems. At the same time, there are people who work hard to buy lovely things, and it’s not ok to begrudge them these things either.

I’ve realized that comparing my life to that of others- based solely on what I see on social media is stupid and potentially dangerous of me. I don’t want to get caught up in envying a life that isn’t necessarily real. I don’t want to envy anyone! I also know better than to think that just because someone raves about how wonderful their life is, how amazing their careers/partners/kids are, that there isn’t always stress in life- whether it’s at work, in maintaining your relationship or raising your kids.

I have to admit I’m fortunate to largely have friends that are often realistic about their lives on social media. I have friends on the fringe of my life who I may have lost touch with in ‘the real world’ who appear to have it all, according to social media- but even if they do, I need to focus on the reasons why I can fall into thinking “I’m boring” so quickly and easily, when I should be grateful for the many blessings in my life. I’m guilty of falling into the ‘comparison trap’ and while it’s fairly natural, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s not.

Comparing your life with anyone else’s is a bad idea. You won’t feel better about yourself. And nor should you. Focus on what you’ve got, and not on what you don’t. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors- social media tends to allow you a peek at the best bits of a person’s life, not the parts that flat out suck.

Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap based on other people’s social media profile? Do you know people who deliberately paint a picture of a life that is happier or more glamorous than it actually is in the cyber-world?

  • Esther

    You’ve nailed it on the head. Comparing your life with others IS your own fault. You can’t blame people just because you think they have a better life than you. It comes down to how secure you are as a person. Try not to compete with others.

  • 26 Years & Counting

    I think it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, even when you’re overall happy with your life. A photo on instagram can make you think “Woah, what if I’d chosen that high paying job instead of keeping my current one” – even just for a moment until you snap back to reality and remember you’re happy with your life as it is. I kind of just view it as a processing moment, not a jealousy moment.