Is Social Comparison Lowering Your Vibration?

Social comparison: A process by which we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we measure up against others. Social comparison is a natural human behavior that helps us fit in with society, evaluate our successes and failures and follow social norms.

One thing that I’ve become particularly aware of over the last few years is how social comparison has been evolving and changing over time.   Though social comparison is a natural human tendency that we’ve probably had forever, I believe that today it has become a root cause for many of our lower vibrational thoughts and feelings.  Here’s why:

As a child of the 80s, I was one of the very last people to grow up without the internet and reality television, so I remember a time when when we were less informed about the kinds of lives the people around us were living.  If we really wanted to know what was going on in someone else’s life we had to actually physically talk to them (imagine that!), or we had to talk to someone who already had.

Today is a much different story.  Now we are completely bombarded with information about the people around us.  We get to know so much more about everyone, including our friends, relatives, acquaintances, and even our celebrities.

With the arrival of social media we now get access to all kinds of random events in people’s lives.  Not only do we get to see pictures of our friend’s new baby, but we also get to see pictures of the sandwich she ate for lunch yesterday.   We even have access to these kinds of details in the lives of people we haven’t seen or spoken to in years, or sometimes even met before!

We also have learned a lot more about people through reality television.  Today, we can peek into the lives of people we never would have had the opportunity to see before.  We get to look inside a celebrity’s home or get to know our favorite athlete’s spouse and children.  Perhaps this is why reality television has been so successful; it allows us to feel connected to the people we admire or are interested in.

However, while it is fun to keep up with more people in the world today, it often unwittingly comes at a cost.  Today, our natural tendency to socially compare ourselves often works against us because of all of this new found information.

While social comparison does serve many positive benefits, when we compare ourselves to others through social media and reality television the comparison simply isn’t fair.  We get the opportunity to observe more people than ever, but we get a very skewed view.  Instead of getting a well-rounded picture of what the people in society really look like, we just get the “highlight reel.” 

For example, on social media your friends and followers are often more likely to post about the things they are proud of and happy about in their lives.  Out at a cool new nightclub with your friends?  Let’s take a selfie!   Just got a new job?  Time for a status update!   

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter you usually only get a glimpse of the most noteworthy, clever and attractive moments in the lives of your friends and followers.

The same goes for reality tv.  The footage that makes it to television contains only the most sensational moments.  Often these moments are dressed up with great outfits, perfect hair and (for women at least) flawless makeup.  You almost never get to see the contestants on The Bachelor snoring on the couch in their pajamas, or watch one of the Housewives go grocery shopping or take care of a sick child.  The mundane just doesn’t make for good television.

As a result, anyone who is plugged in is usually in the process of observing society’s “highlight reel” of the most exciting and glamorous moments. Then, when our natural human tendency to compare ourselves turns on, it’s easy for us to feel as if we just aren’t measuring up.  After all, we’re just sitting around staring at our phone, computer or television, while the rest of the world is apparently out doing great things, having fun, being witty and looking fabulous.

So, while social media and reality television can be fun, I think it’s important to stay aware and mindful about how we feel when we are using them.  If jealousy or feelings of low self-esteem start to creep in, perhaps it’s a good idea to take a break for a little while.  These are both signs that we are in the process of comparing ourselves against unrealistic standards.

Also, it’s a good idea to try to keep a grounded perspective about social media and reality television as often as possible.  Always be reminding yourself that what you are seeing is the best of the best of the best. 

For every beautiful selfie you see posted on the internet, there are probably a hundred more that have been deleted off of that person’s phone in disgust.  For every fantastic family vacation to Hawaii there are likely a thousand boring days at the office that preceded it.  What we see on the internet and television is just the tip of the iceberg.  The bulk of what’s going on in society still remains in the dark beneath the surface, where we are unable to observe it and compare ourselves to it.  We only have the illusion that we know it all. 

Though it’s a lot of fun to see what’s going on in the lives of others, measuring ourselves against the “highlight reel” is a surefire way to lower our vibrations.  It’s just too easy to feel crappy about our lives when we chronically compare ourselves to the best of the best and forget that everyone else has their struggles, irritations and bad hair days too.

So what are your thoughts on this topic?  Do you ever feel as if you don’t measure up in our modern society or have you found a way to keep a grounded perspective of your place in it?  Feel free to share your thoughts with me below in the comments.

Thanks for reading,

Andrea

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Image Source.  This image has been edited.

6 Comments

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    Bobby clarke
    Posted September 30, 2015 11:10 pm 0Likes

    UGH Andrea you speak to my soul! I LOVE this article and part of the reason why I deactivated my facebook MONTHS ago. (i only use instagram mainly to laugh at memes which for sure raises my vibration!!! 😀 ) I totally loved the part about the great selfie yet we dont see how many outtakes before then! Sooo true. This article reminds me of how perhaps in the 90’s they’d say “in reality people do leave the coffee shop and work real jobs” haha in reference to “Friends.” I’m watching Will & Grace now and always wished I were friends with this group of people on the show but then I realize how amazing my friends are too! Great article !!!!!

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    Andrea Schulman
    Posted October 1, 2015 6:59 am 0Likes

    Thanks Bobby! Yes, I’ve thought about deactivating Facebook before myself but never took the plunge. Now with this website I’m in deeper with social media than ever before so maybe that’s why this issue has become so central in my life recently! Love those shows btw 🙂

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    Bobby clarke
    Posted October 1, 2015 12:19 pm 0Likes

    Well you are executing a great purpose on social media! It is apart of your communication and a portal for you to network with people and help. For me, facebook was just a huge distraction and a constant mantra of negativity. Its also all about whom you follow — and most people in their early 20’s arent as vibrationally aware lets say lol. Just reading the negatives, and judgements drove me up a wall. I’d always find myself biting my tongue (or holding back my fingers from typing rather)

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    Andrea Schulman
    Posted October 3, 2015 10:06 am 0Likes

    I hear ya, Bobby! I think taking a break is a good idea for sure, and I applaud you for taking the initiative to protect your vibe. Well done!

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    Kathy Joyce
    Posted October 8, 2015 6:08 am 0Likes

    Yes, I agree about the downfalls of social comparison. It’s understandable that your facebook friends will only show their happy photos, and if you’re feeling lonely and see a happy couple image, it could make you feel far worse. However they are normal people just like you, and most likely have arguments, and fall outs just like everyone else.

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    Andrea Schulman
    Posted October 8, 2015 9:35 am 0Likes

    Thanks for your comment Kathy! Much appreciated 🙂 -Andrea

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