Social Media is not that social.

We regularly use social media to compare ourselves to others. This is inherent to the concept and inevitable. We let everybody know what we did this week and share pictures of our achievements, and in doing so, we ask others to “like” or “comment” on said “status”.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, in of itself, but it does not happen in isolation. What actually occurs is a skewed version of reality: we come to view our posts as an honest depiction of life and apply this thinking to the posts we see from others. The comparisons with our social media “friends” begin on these grounds.

There are many things wrong here.

First, we should never compare ourselves to anyone. There are always greater and lesser people depending on the aspect of oneself and life that we are scrutinizing.

Second, we must understand that what we are producing on a social media platform is an advanced avatar of ourselves. On social media, we try to portray ourselves in the best light possible. Think about your profile pictures. I know I regularly adjust, edit and retake a picture to look my absolute best. That is not reality.

The third thing is we forget that everyone on social media is also projecting an avatar of themselves, putting out the best version of who they perceive themselves to be. The impact to mental health begins when we forget these simple facts. We assume that what the world projects on social media is real. We forget that we all have hard days and tough days and sad days. We forget that truth about the “friend” who posts constantly about her holidays or the “friend” who is always out having loads of fun. We forget that this is not their reality – it’s just the version they want the world to see.

The last element goes back again to comparison. When we are constantly comparing ourselves to unreal versions of others, it can only lead to pain or hurt. It is critical to remember that, for all its benefits, social media is not reality. It’s exactly why real person-to-person interaction is so important, especially now with all that is going on. Pick up the phone, speak to a neighbor safely or go for a walk with someone in your bubble. Do not depend on social media for your connection to reality.

And as I prepare to click “Create Post,” the irony is not lost on me.


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