Use Social Networks For Connecting, Not Comparing

Posted on July 18, 2012 in Specials

By Srishti Singh:

It happens almost everyday. You scroll through your news feed and wham! Your classmate is doing an amazing internship abroad, your friend is dating (again?), your room-mate is on a foreign vacation, your high school friends partied hard last night… the list never ends. Just when you thought your life was going good, this bombardment of updates and images makes you feel- ‘where is my life going?’ Sounds familiar? Welcome to the world of Social Comparison.

Social Comparison Theory was proposed by social psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954 (Yes, way before facebook or other social networks were developed!). The theory explains how individuals evaluate their own opinions and abilities by comparing themselves to others. Hasn’t this become more relevant with the popularity of social networking sites? Teenagers and young adults, who use these sites the most, are coming to therapists with symptoms of a disease which is being termed as the ‘Facebook Syndrome’.

Now what exactly is the basis of this syndrome. Don’t we ‘mature’ young adults know that social networking sites are nothing but a tool for self-advertisement? (Why else do we put a heavily edited picture of ourselves as a display picture?) Well, apparently not. Some of us become so engrossed in this virtual world of ‘likes’, we forget that its not reality. Dr. Meg Jay explains it well in her article. Just say no to Facebook comparisons. She says that we, young people want everything in terms of grades. When we don’t have school/college grades at our disposal, we use social networking sites to determine where we stand. And when we find, that our regular lives are nothing in comparison to the celebrity like lives our ‘friends’ are living, we feel depressed.

Well, there is one thing you can do when you find yourself in such a situation-log out and do something else. Simple! Cause honestly, there is no way you can or should compare your ‘ordinary’ life to the air brushed, highly edited lives of others. Just like its not healthy to compare yourselves to the size-zero models on magazine covers, it’s equally unhealthy to compare online personas.

Frankly speaking, we all know that people just put the best that there is out there, for others to see. Do you put up the pictures where you are dressed in sweats or update that you spent a rather ‘mediocre’ day doing normal stuff or of the time you visited your village? Well, usually no. There are a few people who put up rather disturbing pictures, dressed in the worst clothes possible (ahem, guys’ birthdays to be specific) and the occasional ‘borreeeeeeddd’ statuses but overall social networks are becoming more of self-advertisement tools. People (especially teenagers and young adults) should remember, they are only seeing a part of the real picture online. Use social networks for connecting not comparing.