Some Thoughts on Comparison, Social Media, & Opening Up Online
  

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Some Thoughts on Comparison, Social Media, & Opening Up Online

This post is about comparison, "invisible" struggles, and the role that opening up online and through social media (or not opening up) plays in our perceptions of others' lives....

Sometimes you look at someone in the pew across from you at church, or you follow someone on Instagram and think you have a pretty good idea of what their life is like, how happy they are, what sort of weight they’re carrying in terms of life challenges, and how well they’re handling things.

Authenticity and Transparency Online

You probably compare them or their life with yourself or your life- whether you mean to or not. You probably have a warped perception of what life is really like for them. (Please note that I said warped perception- this is good news because there’s a good chance that your inadvertent comparing is making you feel worse about yourself, your life challenges, and how you’re handling everything! If you can realize that the comparison you’re making isn't really a fair one, it may help you on that front.)




Whether we’re interacting with friends or acquaintances in real-life settings or posting parts of our life on social media, we don’t easily volunteer the most negative, challenging, painful parts of our lives. Those tend to be kept to ourselves and we guard them carefully, assessing when we are ready to “let someone in” enough to share those deeply difficult parts of our life with them. We’re protecting ourselves and we’re protecting others. We don’t want to be hurt by sharing with someone who may not be sensitive to our feelings. We don’t want to ruin the mood of a friendly, light conversation by taking an unexpected deep dive into the dark parts of our souls! I think we do the same with social media.

It’s something I’ve thought about since before Instagram existed. Back in the beginning stages of my blog, a friend mentioned that she had to stop reading my blog (which focused on sharing fun activities you could do with your kids) because it made her feel bad about herself. Sadly, that wouldn’t be the first comment I would hear that showed me that my online presence sometimes led to others feeling bad about themselves. I share highlights on my blog- the fun things we’ve done, the exciting places we’ve been to. I share those ideas with the intent to inspire other parents with ideas for making great memories with their families. Our life is certainly not full of fun activities and creativity and joy, though. I certainly haven’t found some magical balance in my life that allows me to “do it all” and avoid challenges, laziness, failure, sadness, frustration, etc. I’m just less likely to post about the challenges.

The conversations that come up about my blog and about social media in general, and our tendency to compare ourselves to others have really made me think about this. Is there a way to help each other to remember that our social feeds are generally highlight reels? Should we be posting all of the negative moments right in there with the positive, in order to be “real”… in the name of transparency or authenticity? I’ve wondered about that… but then I think about conversations in “real life” and how I wouldn’t want to take that unexpected “deep dive into the dark parts” during a light conversation with an unsuspecting acquaintance. I think about how I carefully decide when to let my guard down in “real life” conversations- there are times when it feels right & safe to share the things I’m struggling with, and there are times that don’t feel right. I think it’s the same with social media.

It’s just tricky to figure this out with social media because anything you share is public. You’re talking to the friend who’s ready for that “deep dive” and you’re talking to the unsuspecting acquaintance who just wanted to say “Hey how’s it going- awesome weather we’re having!” and move on with her day. I haven’t figured it out exactly, and that means that I tend to stick to the lighter subjects in my posts. I play it safe.

But I do want to share a couple of things with you, because I hate the thought of anyone reading my blog or following me on Instagram and drawing comparisons between my life and theirs, and coming away from that, feeling sad.

I want you to know that yes, we went on an adventure this past year, moving to a new place, going on fun road trips, exploring, and making some great, happy memories. It was lovely in so many ways!
But also.

Also, it was one of the hardest years I’ve experienced. I struggled a lot- not just with the things that were going on around me (the challenges of moving to a new country, my husband’s foot randomly getting injured and staying that way for months, the job that we moved for not being what we expected, my husband being gone 12 hours a day, money being tight and therefore feeling very restricted with spending on anything, etc.) but also with the things that were going on inside of me.

I struggled a lot with my thoughts and feelings. I learned that I was unhappy because of some ways that life hadn’t become what I expected it to be; I was sad and disappointed, and I couldn’t figure out how to deal with the feelings I was having as a result of that disappointment. I felt guilty for being unhappy with things because I could easily see that it could be so much worse, in so many ways and that there are many wonderful blessings in my life!

I struggled with these things the whole time we lived in Utah. I struggled to figure out what I could do that would bring me more happiness. I struggled to understand my feelings. I listened to podcasts, I read books, I had long talks with friends, I even went to a counselor a couple of times.

After a whirlwind of a year, here I am back in Canada and on the cusp of another new life situation. The time we spent living at the cottage felt healing and good for my soul. I had time to think about the things I was struggling with during the last year. I’m in a better place now (mentally & emotionally… we won’t get into a debate about countries- ha!). I feel like I'm finally getting somewhere and can look back and see more clearly what I've been learning. It makes me excited to move forward in this next chapter of life.

I know that I'll continue to face familiar challenges and I'll come up against new and unexpected difficulties. I'll find joy in new places and have experiences and opportunities that I haven't even dreamed up yet. It's a little scary and exciting at the same time. I hope to share a lot of it and to continue in my quest to find ways to share the deeper parts of life with you in ways that feel right to me. As I am figuring that out, I want you to know that although I focus on the more positive things in many of my posts, the dark and difficult parts are here too. You are not alone in them.

Much love to each of you in your own struggles! I know you all face them and I wish I could give each of you a hug and send you some extra strength to face whatever your current difficulties are!




Thanks for visiting my blog!

Please subscribe or follow to keep in touch.

44 comments:

  1. Love this, and love you, thanks for sharing! *hugs*

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that's something that's really lacking on social media -- sharing our hardest moments. Though I do think "groups" can help with that. Still, I've made my strongest connections with people when I'm most raw and open.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. It's true- I think the trickiest thing is that you can't choose who you're sharing with, so you have to be ok with anyone/everyone seeing what you share.

      Delete
  3. Thank you, my Blogging Sistah, about opening up and writing about these... comparisons and the circuits they get us into.
    Life is precioius. And we all want a good life for ourselves and our loved ones.
    Online life is even more powerful, as we spend there the majority of our time. That life influces us; we influence many others.
    I just want to thank you for this morning's good read for myself. Truly was needed.
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Thank you for comment, I'm glad that you found it helpful!

      Delete
  4. I honestly never know what to believe when people post stuff on SM. I try to keep personal stuff out of my postings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It helps to know where you want to draw your personal line!

      Delete
  5. This is something that's not shown a lot on social media: sharing those tough times that we've endured. There are groups that can have some positive impact; but, I always seem to connect better one-on-one with someone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I would agree. It's easier for me to connect one-on-one too.

      Delete
  6. Welcome back to canada! Thank you for opening up about your experience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great article and so timely. My husband has been really blessed to have a great job where he can earn fabulous trips twice a year. I have stopped even sharing our travels on social media because it seems like there is so much judgement. The comparison game really does hurt so many people. I wish everyone could just be happy for each other!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. That's so nice that you're able to take trips twice a year when he earns them- that sounds awesome! & it's kinda sad that you have to worry about sharing them because of the judgement. It's very considerate of you to be aware of the feelings others experience when you share- another reason I feel it's easier to navigate these things in "real life" because you get a feel for who you can share things with and when it's best not to get into certain things.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for opening up! I often struggle with this myself and find myself keeping my guard up. I am glad you found peace and are in a better place all the way around!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love that you shared this with everyone. I've struggled a lot myself as well. I think it's great the way you talked about them. It's nice to be open with everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Kathy! I think we all face this in some way and it's something we all need to figure out how we want to navigate

      Delete
  10. It's so easy to compare your own situation or life with other people's. Social media is a powerful thing these days. I love reading inspirational books and have started using meditation too, which really helps ease my mind and emotions. You are so brave for opening up your feelings like this online.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have put myself out there on social media, I try to show more real life in my stories. I think more people can relate to show when you show it. If you want to that is!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, stories is a great place to share those things. Even that can be scary ;) but I find that when you start to try it, you get more comfortable with it.

      Delete
  12. I keep my social media pretty selective. I have to stay grounded in reality with people I actually know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes- carefully figuring out who you want to follow can make a big difference. I think it's good to pay attention to how our feed affects us and "edit" our list based on that.

      Delete
  13. It's so true. We must realize that there is always someone better off ( and worse off than we are). I try to look at blogs as motivational and realize that everyone has strengths.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. & although someone may be better off or worse off in one area, things can be totally different in others!

      Delete
  14. I always try to remember not to judge a book by it's cover. Just because someone may look happy online doesn't mean they have the perfect life in the offline world.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Isn't this the truth. It's very easy to document the highlight reel. All the good moments, not because you want to boast or make the world think life is perfect, but who wants to bring out a camera on those bad times? I am trying my hardest to keep is EXTREMELY real on Instastories, because I feel that can help bring a little real life to my HIGHLIGHTS reel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. It's always appreciated by me when people share the "real & messy" parts!

      Delete
  16. Social media is such a tricky thing, so good for so many things but so tough when it feels like it's only a highlight reel. I think this is a tough time to find balance between honest and raw and oversharing; on the other side it's hard when you want to share about a good day but not make it seem like you're bragging/ rubbing it in people's faces. I appreciate you're honesty in this post, this is the kind if thing that I think is healthy too read about and be reminded of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. " I think this is a tough time to find balance between honest and raw and oversharing" Yes!
      Thank you

      Delete
  17. Life is full of challenges! And life is beautiful because of this!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Toni | Boulder LocavoreJune 4, 2019 at 7:15 AM

    Thanks so much for opening up this topic. Sometimes it's really hard not to compare your life with people in social media, but it's important that we remember that each of us face our own struggles.This is such a great reminder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Toni. Yes, I think it's a challenge we face both on social and in "real life"

      Delete
  19. I love when people are real on social media. It makes them feel more authentic to me

    ReplyDelete
  20. As you may already know, people would only want to show the good side of things. This is pretty common in social media. I really like what you shared here.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gosh, I understand this completely. It's so easy to "pretend" everything is ok online when you really arent. Being vulnerable is difficult. But I always encourage people to do so!

    ReplyDelete
  22. They say that comparison is the thief of joy, and as much as I love social media, it sure steals a lot of joy. A big part of that is that we're no longer trying to keep up with the Joneses, per se, as much as we are trying to keep up with the curated version of the Joneses that they choose to depict online. There are no easy solutions.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Great post, thanks for sharing. So many people get caught up in the comparison game. <3

    ReplyDelete
  24. Social media has become such a depressing place for me. Causes me so much anxiety trying to live up to unattainable goals set.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment- I love reading them! :)
~Heather Lynne

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *