Is Social Media Causing More Social Comparison?

Social media can be fun. And, it’s not a bad thing. However, spending a great deal of time on social media can cause people to fall into the habit of needing more validation from outside sources than from within themselves.

We have a built-in need to fit in. Social scientists call this innate response Social Comparison Theory. This theory states that we determine our self-worth by comparing ourselves to others. Even though this is a natural response, when counting on validation from others or focusing solely on how we stack up to everyone else, we can become trapped in dissatisfaction.

Social comparison is nothing new—social media did not create it. However, it opens up our world, and we now have many more people to compare ourselves to. Instead of only trying to keep up with the Jones, we now compare the quality of our lives and our success and happiness with people all around the globe.

Studies of how Facebook and other social media outlets affect our lives can explain some of the reasons we continue to plug in regularly. We all know people constantly check their status updates and stop whatever they are doing when they hear the ping that they have a new notification. Many studies show that we are happier and mentally healthier when we access social media less frequently.

One such study demonstrated that participants who avoided their Facebook account for just one week reported being happier because they felt more present in their actual lives.

So, what can we do to reduce our social comparison on social media? Here are a couple of suggestions.

Unplug

The less time you spend on social media, the less effect this social comparison will have on you. You may find you need to go cold turkey for a week to recognise what a difference it makes.

Live your life

You’ll actually live your life when you aren’t caught up in constantly checking your status updates. You’ll be more engaged in things that matter instead of wishing you had the perfect life like so-and-so.

Schedule social media time

It’s easy to get sucked into Facebook-land. So you don’t waste your life in front of your computer, set aside 10-15 minutes daily to participate in social media. Finally, consider “unfriending” those people who seem to trigger your social comparison negatively.