About a month ago, a friend of mine recommended a free app called, “The Comparison Trap”. So, I checked it out, and I was surprised at the things it brought to light. Many of which I hadn’t thought about before. The App content consisted of videos and short readings to encourage viewers to decrease how much they compare themselves to other people following the tagline, “Finding contentment in an age of awareness.” I learned a lot from this app, but one of my biggest take-aways was quite surprising. It’s made me think about how Facebook and other social media outlets impact my view of my own life.
I love the Facebook flashbacks. It’s so fun to be reminded of those beautiful, fun, peak moments in the past as I live today in the present. Those flashbacks are a look back on highlights of my life–the day we got married, the birth of my children, birthday parties, and family vacations. However, I don’t tend to keep in mind the fact that they are merely the highlights. As I scroll through my Newsfeed full of people’s favorite moments—not their day in, day out routine—and I easily forget what is the reality of daily living. Granted, you get the occasional real life moment that’s cute and funny, but most of the posts tend to be of the more exciting things in life—vacations, adorable things kids do and say, date nights, surprises, recipes gone right, and get-togethers with friends.
Sometimes I think it would be helpful for a sign to flash across my screen before and after scrolling my newsfeed that reads, “REMINDER: IT’S THE BEST OF THE BEST THAT’S SHARED!” Without that, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that other people have it way better than I do. But in reality, everyone is struggling with something uniquely their own, but they typically don’t spew all that on Facebook (which also probably a good thing).
But because of this constant highlight reel, I find myself asking, am I less content with my husband because we don’t get to constantly go out on the dates I see posted? When a friend posts a sweet, romantic surprise her husband planned, does it make my husband appear less thoughtful in my eyes? I usually scroll past the proclamations of love people post on their anniversaries, but does it make me sad that my husband doesn’t declare his undying love for me each and every day? Do I wish he would “like” and “share” things that other people’s husband do? Am I comparing him to people he’s not? People I didn’t choose to marry? Does my happily ever after seem more mundane because I’m comparing it to something that isn’t reality?
The truth is I need to see these constant highlights in their proper place! Everyone has to do laundry and dishes and communicate through differences of opinion and make sacrifices. That’s not what’s being captured in those posted perfect family photos, but it’s important to keep in mind that these hard moments not shared are just as formative.
All this to say, I do see a lot of good on Facebook and other forms of social media. I don’t think it’s the problem, but I’m glad to have this increased awareness to check myself on occasion. If I decide I’m not doing a very good job of being content with the beautiful life I’ve been given, I might just have to take a break for awhile. After all, loving the people in my reality is far more important than the dream world created from the questioning due to everyone else’s highlights.