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Social Insecurity and Social Media

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The sociability of “social” media

These days, it seems that Facebook has become a page 6 of who’s-up-to-what.  Friends and acquaintances are getting married or engaged, are travelling to far out and awesome places, are partying hard, or getting the internships and seemingly living life to its fullest. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m wicked happy for these cool cats, life needs to be lived, but I can’t help but wonder if I measure up, or know what I am doing.

Is that a product of the way we were brought up? By all social understandings, the onslaught of check-in’s, updates on the grand wedding plans and the major job moves, my Facebook news feed is living the life. My Instagram home page is teeming with awesome and luckily, Ellen DeGeneres dominates my twitter feed and nobody can stand up to that.

But there lies the flaw. Comparison. I know that its not emotionally and mentally healthy, but I can’t help comparing myself negatively to my social media peers. Comparing myself mostly to those I’ve seen a few times and rarely communicate with. Then why compare myself? To answer both the questions, I turn to my soon-to-be alma mater and every institution before that. In this society of meritocracy, we are forced to compete. We competed in high school: socially, athletically and academically. We compete in college: socially, academically, politically, and for many, career-wise. Fresh out of university, we compete for the job, the family, the money… everything.

In this dog-eat-dog world, its nice to know you’re doing alright. However social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and on-the-go platforms like Instagram shows us the best of the best. Understandably so, it’s a happy social space, with likes and loves and favourite and retweets. Our social networks post the happiest or the insanely fabulous moments, which, through no fault of their own, prompts the understanding us to believe that they are living lives greater than ours. Our “highlight reels” are no space to post sad memories or thoughts, and were you to post that sad lyric from that Simple Plan song, that would not bode well with your Facebook buds.


Social media sites also create a metric for comparison. The number of Facebook friends, tweets, and Instagram followers offer a basis for comparison. The number of tagged photos, check-ins (both locally and globally), number of likes, re-tweet’s, @’s, it all boils down to how many. I get antsy and need to purge the friends list on Facebook when it hits 300, while my co-workers purge past 800. Some are okay with photo’s posted of last night’s bender, while others have photos posted where they cover their face 80% of the time. In other words, these sites are a carefully curated and crafted version of ourselves.

But nobody wants to admit that. It’s an awkward admission to ourselves and the world that “this isn’t all I am”, when all we’ve known is to “be ourselves”. And that’s okay. It’s natural and completely acceptable to want to portray the best version of ourselves. What shouldn’t be natural is to constantly negatively compare ourselves to the best and edited versions of each other and ourselves. To illustrate, I feel the pressure to compare myself to my Facebook profile constantly. My check-in’s have been stagnant, my recent profile picture was from months ago, and even though nobody can see my tagged photos, my last tagged pic was from August.

While it is good to see how your peers are doing and see where life’s milestones are, we should do so consciously so as to not negatively compare our own place in our life. Friends are getting engaged at this point in their lives, and seeing their bling and bridesmaid dresses makes me feel pressured to go out there and snag my one-and-only stat. However, while I can’t wait to go bridesmaid shoe shopping, when I actually think about it, the thought of marriage at this point in my life isn’t what I really want. Same goes for the kids and the puppies. And I know that when I’m ready, adventure will come.

Lesson here: it is important to engage in society and compare, but it is equally, if not more important to consider what you specifically want in life.  The next time you see Suzie from 4th grade move to Paris for a fashion internship, be happy for Suzie, and happy for yourself, because you know that your path may not be in Paris, but anywhere else. Happiness is relative to who we are and what we want, not what society and peers pressure you to need.

I was once told that we were not made to feel inferior; we do that to ourselves. Perhaps it is time to stop worrying about “check-ins” and Lo-fi’s, and think outside the hashtags.  

In the meantime, I’m just going to lurk on pinterest and hold onto my dreams.

And for some giggles, here’s a parody of everyone’s love ‘em/hate ‘em Canadian band, Nickelback’s Photograph: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn-dD-QKYN4


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