I started doing that thing again last night. It's a terrible thing to do—more of a routine, really.
I couldn't sleep, and needed an easy distraction, so I picked up my phone and let the scrolling begin. It's strange how some things can affect you so differently depending on little things like a gloomy mood or the exchange of the sun for the moon.
Typically, social media is an outlet that I enjoy—a community in which I feel comfortable. But, when the stresses from the day decide to join me in bed, it is not a place I should desire to be. And, somehow, it is the place I always find myself.
Envy is a dirty word.
It is also a sneaky mother-effer.
You can slip into a heavy coat of jealousy without realizing you ever put it on at all. This is because it does not provide any initial warmth and you were never really cold in the first place. It's the things you think you are missing that everyone else has that brings on the chill. These desires make the coat heavier and heavier until it's too late to take it off because you are already sweating with regret.
Her boyfriend bought her a massage...Why doesn't mine do that more often? And she just got a new car... I NEED a new car more than SHE does! They went to eat at that new place... I've been trying to go for weeks! She's having a baby... Should I be having one too?? Her family is always dressed so well... We need to go shopping! And look at her new purse... When was the last time someone bought me something extravagant?
They went to the beach AND Disneyland for spring break?... We need to plan a trip! She has such a great body... Why can't I look like that, too! I want her hair, and her lips, and her dog, and her husband, and her shoes, and her house, and her, her, HER!
Wow. Just writing that has left me feeling exhausted.
Those may not have all been my exact thoughts, but they are close enough. We all desire what those around us already have from time to time—it's our unfortunate nature to do so. What I don't want to ever become natural to me, is to allow myself to be consumed by these "needs". Social media makes it incredibly easy to confuse wants and needs.
Before I know it, I will have found myself with a $300 Sephora cart loaded, a 92 hour spa day scheduled, a new hair color and style pinned, the number to a home listed in another neighborhood, a rhinestone encrusted collar for the pet I don't have, a lose-500-pounds-in-5-days diet planned and a full name & a "My First Christmas" outfit picked out for my imaginary baby that I obviously need to have because, well, everyone else has them!
Let's take a breather.
It is in this moment that I have to mentally (OK, sometimes physically) slap myself across the face to snap out of it. And this tried-and-true quote usually forms the hand:
"Comparison is the thief of joy."
We've all heard this quote before because it is SO true. Why are we all trying to trade our joy for someone else's? Do we honestly believe that their grass is actually sprouting Louis Vuitton bags, perfect husbands and well-behaved children? (If this sounds like your backyard, call me. We need to do lunch... on your patio... in your grass. Immediately.)
I think we forget that social media platforms really are just that—platforms!
Plat•form: a raised level surface on which people can stand.
Now, I don't know about you, but I think people decorate the shit out of this surface area—another keyword: surface!
We must remind ourselves that these are HIGHLIGHTED reels of others lives.
Granted, some people keep it very real in their status updates—and it is incredibly refreshing! Then there are others who keep it a little too real which is not so refreshing. (For the love of God pepple, no one wants to hear about your piece of shit ex-boyfriend's sexual shortcomings or the rash you contracted from your pet! Do not make me hide you from my newsfeed because, well, I probably already have.)
When it comes down to it, the are no concrete laws in the social media world. Sure, there are unwritten rules that people with half of a brain and an adequate dose of common sense abide by but, unfortunately, these are not required fields to create a Facebook account.
So, people will continue to excessively post pictures of seat-belt-selfies and announce to the world that they are eating a tuna sandwich with pickles on a Tuesday afternoon and post so many pictures of their pregnancy tummies and cravings that you find yourself stocking up on Kit Kat bars in anticipation of the live delivery they are bound to post on Instagram where everyone gets a front row seat.
This is just how the social media world works. Call it crazy, mindless, self-indulging, addicting, blissful, educational, demoralizing—call it whatever you'd like—it's entertaining.
We may not be able to control what others put out there, but we can surely control what we take in.
So, the next time you find yourself desiring the reel of another's feed, take a step back and really think about whether you would trade their joy for yours. Think about what happens after the photo is taken or when the "just because" flowers die. Think about why they have that kind of time on their hands. What if they confuse love with attention?
Try and focus on the fact that none of us are strangers to loneliness or fear or hurt. Do you really want their pain in exchange for their pretty pictures?
I hope not. Our personal struggles are what make us unique and strong and resilient. They are the reality that we can't dress up. Our trials are what elevate our personal statuses—not our status updates.
Join me in making an effort to celebrate the platforms of others—as well as our own. There is nothing wrong with being happy for, or appreciating, someone else's journey. "Like" what they post from a place of love, "comment" on what reflects your life, "share" when something hits home—choose to add to their joy instead of stealing from your own!
Make sure that what scrolls down your screen starves the ego of comparison and helps feed joy to the soul.