The Internet is an amazing, inspiring, dangerous thing. Every day, we walk around with all of the information known to mankind in our purses and pockets and social networks keep us constantly connected to friends, celebrities and the world at large. It can be hard to look at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram without thinking, “I wish that was me!” at least once. And for those with low self-esteem or body image issues, scrolling through newsfeeds can be stressful.
Simply put, self-esteem is how we evaluate ourselves. Unfortunately for many, particularly women, these evaluations are based on how well we stack up against everyone else and the “ideal,” so it’s no surprise that this results in a failing grade most of the time. Sadly, “I’m fat” and “I’m a loser” are much more common self-evaluations than “I’m smart” or “I’m a great friend.”
Comparing ourselves to celebrities and models is hardly a new phenomenon. But until fairly recently, the images we had to contend with daily were the polished and highly produced versions of of our favourite celebs in magazines and on TV. Now, all it takes is a quick tweet from Kim K (who has such an online presence, I don’t need to write her whole name) to make us believe that “beauty” has a definition and we don’t fit it.
With social media also comes another daily comparison– every friend or acquaintance we know. It’s easy to fall into the “everyone is beautiful but me” trap when even the #nofilter photos that pop up on look flawless. But as anyone who has ever taken a selfie knows, these images are no fluke. Look at the last selfie you posted online. Now count how many other versions you took. Chances are, whether you’re comparing yourself to a friend, a celebrity or a stranger, they went through the same process of experimenting with angles, getting the expression just right and playing with the lighting before selecting the very best one.
It also means that when an old colleague gets married, the girl you
sat beside in Science class has a baby or the guy you met at that party once gets a promotion, you know about it. Instead of getting caught up in the shoulding and beating yourself up about “not having it all together,” it’s important to remember that our lives all take different paths. It might seem like everyone is getting married/ having children/ buying houses/ moving up in their careers/ travelling the world but you. But think about the things the people you envy had to give up or do without. For example, one person may choose a strict budget to buy a house, while another may chose to put the money toward travelling or furthering their education. One person may decide this is the right time to start a family, while another may opt to focus on their career.
Social media is an incredible way to keep in touch and stay informed, but it’s important to think about what we’re not seeing. We control what we share online, so we all tend to portray our best selves, our highlight reels. Do you share your unflattering photos, mention your mistakes or talk about your boring days? No? Remember that the next time you catch yourself measuring your worth against someone else’s posts.