The Age of Comparison
With our constant reliance on social media, this era has truly become the age of comparison. Our digital accounts encourage us to put our best foot forward and leave the unsightly conflicts of reality behind closed doors. By consistently publishing our highlight reels and hiding our bloopers, false identities are created that appear more perfect than we may actually feel. When coupled with observing others’ online identities, this habit leaves us comparing and envying the lives of others. This is uncharted territory in terms of developmental psychology and it’s difficult to fathom how this online exposure feeds our addiction to validation.
Increased longing to attain more approval and praise from others is problematic and never-ending; there will always be someone with more likes, better photos, a hotter body, and a seemingly more satisfying life. Exposure can be easily overwhelming, but its effect is only as strong as its allowed influence. Success is subjective for each person. The numerical accumulation of double-taps doesn't, and shouldn't, validate the meaning of the experience.
The constant craving to edit and refine our calculated identities hinders the development of a true connection with ourselves. Instead of dwelling on the public response to our reputations, personal satisfaction begins when we notice our own reaction to our individual lifestyle choices. From there we can build the relationship with ourselves to become more comfortable and prouder of who we are without need for external approval. Besides, the people who prefer your polished identity over your jagged hiccups will only provide conditional relationships. You are the only one who sees every inevitable high and low introduced in your life, so remember to value all of it and to grasp the comprehensive understanding of you.
Your online persona is only a sliver of the grander concept of you. No amount of likes or comments can alter your personal value without your willing consent. Your most important relationship is the one with yourself. Recognize and appreciate what's good, and identify and change what's not. People may like what they see, but how you make others feel is what will be remembered.
Annie Sragner, contributing writer for ifIknew