A few days ago, as the Halloween pictures started popping up all over Facebook, I found myself in a position that I’ve put myself in many times before. Once I noticed a girl who looked pretty in her costume, I started looking through the rest of her pictures as well. As I looked at all the people who “liked” her pictures, and saw how beautiful she was in every single picture, and observed how happy she looked all the time, I started feeling really bad about my own life.
“I don’t have nearly as many Facebook photos as this girl. I must not have any friends.”
“Look how happy her life always is. Why isn’t my life more like that?”
“Why am I one of the least photogenic people on the planet, whereas this girl looks gorgeous without even trying?”
The jealousy crept in, and I found myself looking at even more girls who are much more popular than me on Facebook. It was an endless cycle and in an attempt to stop it, I reached out to a friend. She admitted that she does the same thing all the time too.
Why do we keep hurting ourselves over artificial comparisons? Why do we feel the need to make comparisons at all?
Girls have probably been comparing themselves to each other since the beginning of time, but the creation of Facebook has made it so much easier. In my head, I know that Facebook popularity doesn’t actually reflect how good, nice, or happy someone is, but it’s still hard to truly believe when I see the hundreds – sometimes thousands – of pictures girls are tagged in, or the numbers of “likes” they have on every picture.
When I hang out with people in a big group setting, there’s definitely pressure to make sure everybody on Facebook knows that we’re all friends and that we hang out, so people will take picture after picture of the same things rather than living in the moment and enjoying the company of their friends. It feels unnatural and superficial in person, but on Facebook it looks like we’re having the time of our lives.
Taking pictures every once in a while to preserve a memory is great – I love looking back at old photos of me and my friends because it takes me right back to that moment in time. But without Facebook, how many of those hundreds of pictures would we still take of prom, sitting around talking, or making faces at a computer screen? My guess is not nearly as many. Facebook has heightened competition between girls (and between boys too, but it doesn’t seem to be to the same extent) to the point where I end up sitting in a coffee shop, sad at the fact that I’m not tagged in 1,000 photos on Facebook.
How can we stop this unhealthy cycle of competition? To be honest, I don’t have any idea. What I’ve done in the past is delete my Facebook for a few months, until I felt I was on steady ground again. But this time around I can’t do that because of this blog, and I need to find a more realistic solution than blocking myself off from the world. When I start getting upset about something competition-related, something that has helped me to feel better about myself is talking to the people that I always have fun with. Whether it be my boyfriend, my best friend, or my mom, after being with them I completely forget about not feeling as pretty as other girls on Facebook.
It’s an uphill battle, but I’m hoping that eventually I’ll learn to stop comparing myself to the image people create for themselves on Facebook.