Every person on this planet has that insufferable friend who story-tops everything. Oh, you got promoted? Your friend just got promoted AND engaged. You adopted a dog? He adopted a rescue dog that was an extra in a Will Smith movie. It never ends with this person, but you keep him around for reasons that defy logic.
If this person was a website, he would be your Facebook newsfeed. No one scrolls through a newsfeed because he or she is having the time of his or her life. If you were having the time of your life, you wouldn’t have time to check Facebook because you would be, you know, enjoying the time of your life. It’s almost always boredom or a compulsion to stalk that draws people to endlessly check out their feed.
This is almost always how it goes. You are bored at work, at home, or on a date (shame on you, don’t check Facebook on a date) and you do the mindless scroll through other people’s profiles. It starts innocently, but before you know it, you 1) hate all your “friends” and 2) hate your own life. You felt happy earlier this month about your Christmas bonus, but now your friend is posting pictures from the Virgin Islands and you remember that you can’t afford a trip to the Virgin Islands and now you’re miserable. Or your friend with a hotter body posts a picture and she doesn’t have to do the skinny arm pose because her arms are actually toned and now you resent your own appearance.
It’s petty. It’s dumb. It’s impossible to stop scrolling. That picture of an ex passes by where he looks happy. Ugh. Then that picture of your perfect cousin pops up. I have a cousin who found out he got a job on Wall Street and finished first in a marathon in the same day. I have never flown into a hate rage so fast in my life. I mean, I was happy for him, but oh my heavens, I am already dreading being around him this coming year during the holidays. How stupid is that? I don’t even think we are happy for our friends anymore, because instead of hearing their good news and immediately congratulating them, we first compare their news to our lives, then congratulate them with a subtle hint of spite.
Here’s why you need to let the newsfeed go or agree to only read it in small doses. With great power (to fly into a jealous rage) comes great responsibility (to know when enough is enough). The aspect of your friend’s life that you see on social media is the highlight reel: the engagements, the jokes, the vacation pictures. No one posts, “I only kind of like my job. I can’t afford anything in my Brooks Brothers shopping cart and my dog isn’t even that cute.”
So when you feel bored and you decide to check Facebook, you are comparing your day-to-day to other people’s filtered, edited, and carefully chosen highlights. It makes it seem as if everyone you know has this perfect life, when in reality, everyone is just desperate to feel validated. It’s generally assumed now that the more a person posts about his or her life, the less interesting his or her life actually is.
It’s unavoidable to have social media. The only thing worse than someone with an addiction to Facebook is someone without one. Suspicious, right? I don’t think that we all need to go and eighty-six our profiles, but I do think it’s time that we dial back on how much power we give other people’s updates. I resolved this 2015 to only check my Facebook two or three times a day for notifications only, and to delete the app from my phone. I’ll admit that it was uncomfortable at first to not idly check it out whenever the feeling of boredom hit, but the honest truth is, two weeks in, that I don’t miss anything. There is so much anxiety associated with comparing our lives to everyone else and with the advent of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it has never been easier to constantly see how we stack up against our friends.
Your life doesn’t suck. It only sucks when you compare it to someone else’s. Stop giving some algorithm-decided, humble-brag fest so much power over how you feel about yourself. Those people posting constantly about how great their lives are? Do you really want to compare yourself to someone who needs that much attention? If her life was as awesome as she was making it out to be, she wouldn’t need a few “likes” to realize that..
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