on Facebook and fake lives

Comparison is the thief of joy.
-Theodore Roosevelt

I can be having a perfectly good day, and then I get on Facebook. Suddenly my life is not good enough, because some girl I forgot from undergrad is posting photos of herself sipping a beachside margarita. Heck, my life isn’t even as good as my life. Facebook Me is painting the town and reading thoughtful articles. Real Life Me is typically trapped in a black hole of BuzzFeed “related links.”

I tried to use my knuckles and Google Image to make it look like I went on vacation…. It did not work.

The marg-sipping photographer must care enough about her image that she ignored the spectacular view and sat on her phone, filtering and posting a photo of it, instead of living it. Most of us have done that at some point. And for what? Validation, of course.And sure, there is a level of convenience for sharing photos with friends, but isn’t there a greater level of pride?

It leaves us trapped in our own insecurities, looking out at a field full of perfect-looking people.

Social media has become the watering hole for our generation. We trudge around this watering hole with masks on—masks complete with Photoshop and a backspace button to fix any human error. And we just watch each other. It leaves us trapped in our own insecurities, looking out at a field full of perfect-looking people.

Social media itself is not the problem. The medium has merely intensified a problem that has always existed: keeping up with the Joneses. Social media simply made it easier for the Joneses to look awesome. We can all be Joneses with the right camera angles.

The root issue with these reactions is the basis of your self-worth on society’s values.

There are three typical reactions to the Joneses: The first is to bitterly decide their life cannot be as great as it looks (and it is not, but neither is yours). The second is to keep groping for the things you think you are supposed to have. The last is to give up and sink into a low self-esteem. I am usually a blend of the first and last. It is wholly unfulfilling.

The root issue with these reactions is the basis of your self-worth on society’s values. Society says you need success, beauty, and fun to be happy, even though it is full of examples of people who have all of those things and still suffer from their own demons. Those things are empty because they are temporal. Success tires, beauty fades, fun ends. There is very little evidence that these things are truly worth achieving, and yet we feel compelled to strive for them, because we are not “good” without them.

Freedom from social comparison is found by wrapping yourself in a different truth about what is important in this world.

The more I anchor my self-worth in something other than society, the more freedom I feel from it. I am a new creation in Christ. He gave me a new code to live by that values humility, compassion, and sacrifice over money and looks. I answer not to Man, but to a God who loves me and equips me to be Good. My faith began pushing my concern for Man’s opinion to the wayside. Man’s fleeting love has little appeal next to the unconditional and encompassing Love of a God who knows a thousand hidden reasons to hate me, and yet chooses to ignore them. (See Psalm 139, Psalm 86:15).

Freedom from social comparison is found by wrapping yourself in a different truth about what is important in this world. If you want a reality show, keep chasing after that #lifestyle. If you want peace and purpose, try chasing after something substantial. It will be more than worth the struggle to find it.

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