The Culture of Social Comparison

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Comparison, we all do it, it’s a normal part of being human. At its core, social comparison helps us to understand others, allowing us to work well in groups and form solid social connections. Social comparison helps us to understand where we fit into society around us and how to best engage.

With the rise of social media, there are now countless ways to compare yourself to others in the flick of a scroll in your feed. Never before have we been so inundated by information about what other people are doing, what they are wearing, where they are going on vacation, and so on endlessly.

When social comparison turns unhealthy, it can lead to loneliness, depression, and anxiety. You might notice yourself falling into unhelpful comparison when you experience things like FOMO (The fear of missing out), for instance, when you see all the wonderful events others have attended, while you are scrolling through social media on your couch.

How can you help avoid the negative effects of social comparison?

Limit your social media time
Studies show that the more you engage with social media the more you are at risk for the negative effects of comparison. Simple changes, like moving your favorite social media platform off your phone (or to a buried page) can help reduce the time spent.

Be mindful of your inner state
As you are engaging with social media, be mindful of how you are feeling and how you are reacting to others’ posts. If you see a friend posting a picture of a brand new car, do you think: “Wow, how amazing, I’m so happy for them!” or is it more like: “Man, I’m never going to get a new car.”? If it’s closer to the latter, time to walk away from social media for the moment.

Practice Gratitude
If you find yourself in a scroll loop and your thoughts are about how someone else’s life is better, just stop, take a deep breath and think of one thing you are grateful for. Gratitude for what you have is a key to your happiness.

Reer, F., Tang, W. Y., & Quandt, T. (2019). Psychosocial well-being and social media engagement: The mediating roles of social comparison orientation and fear of missing out. New Media & Society, 21(7), 1486–1505.?

2019-11-15T17:25:09+00:00