Feeling the need to ‘fit in’ with social media
The dictionary definition of peer pressure states it as: “the pressure to conform to the standards and behaviours of one’s peers”.
I’m sure this sounds a bit familiar, “If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you?” and in the back of your mind thinking, “Um, yeah…”
The desire to feel we belong, that we have a set place in this world isn’t new. Our ancestors started the trend in tribal days.
But back then, it had a lot more to do with basic survival. Also, they didn’t have to contend with the pressures of Facebook.
Good auld social media. Where would we be without it and the internet? I mean, you wouldn’t be reading this, were it not for the computer whiz kids who gave us the greatest invention of the 20th century.
Globally, we are all connected by world wide web. It’s as easy to chat to someone in Australia as it is to the person sitting next to you on the couch, sometimes easier!
Stream of updates
This is an incredible, wonderful thing. But, it also means our peer group is on a much wider scale than our ancestors had to deal with.
We’ve all had those moments. You log onto Facebook or check Twitter to be faced with a stream of updates from your friends making their lives seem just effin’ fantastic.
“OMG! Off to Puerto Rico with the girls in six weeks! Gonna be AMAZING! Better go bikini shopping ;)”
“My J1 was accepted! Yes!! Off to spend the summer in Miami! Unreal!”
“My boyfriend just brought me dinner, dessert and flowers for no other reason than he loves me. Love you baby xoxo”.
Feeling a failure
Suddenly you’ve a totally different perspective on your own life. You somehow feel a failure because the only plans you have this summer involve trips to the library and maybe, a daring trek to the beach on a sunny day.
This hadn’t particularly bothered you before logging on. But now, you think your life is rubbish, you’re pathetic and nobody will ever love you as you get caught in a typhoon of irrationality.
The truth is, we’ve all been on both sides of this kind of thing. When you have good, exciting news, you want to share it with the world. There is a little bit of you thinking: “I want everyone to see how amazing my life is right now”.
Being on the other side is a lot less fun and can leave you feeling dissatisfied with your life, as if it’s lacking in some way, not quite as sparkly as everyone else’s. Next thing you know, your self-esteem is in the gutter.
So, what’s the solution? It’s not like you can avoid the internet and social media; nor should you have to. The key is balance. Whatever stage you’re at in your life, whatever is happening, good or bad, it won’t last forever so in the mean time stop comparing yourself to others.
Those friends who are jetting off? That “amazing” trip around Oz more than likely included lots of stressful scenarios when your mate wasn’t sure how they would pay for their next meal.
That wonderful boyfriend/girlfriend of your other friend? They fight just like any couple does. The only difference is you mightn’t see these details in a status update or a tweet.
People use social media to portray their lives in the way they want to portray them; which is completely their prerogative. Nobody’s life is perfect, but constantly comparing yourself to others doesn’t help. Do what you want to do, when you want to do it, with a quiet “forget you” to the rest of them and you won’t go far wrong.