A recent Penn Study independently confirms what many have learned the hard way — limiting social media use increases well-being. In spite of Zuckerberg’s (maybe genuine, maybe cynical PR-spin) mission to “bring the world closer together”, for many of us, social media’s primary effect is to facilitate comparing ourselves with others — and to remind us that we come up short.
I largely stopped using Facebook and Instagram a few months ago for this reason. It’s not an easy habit to break. The world is exciting, and folks are doing all sorts of cool things you never imagined, and it’s amazing to be able to learn about it all, right? Well, yes. But it’s also true that, as social creatures, comparing ourselves is a fundamental aspect of our psychology, and yet we are grossly maladapted to doing it at the scale that social media encourages. I feel shame admitting that — like I should be a bigger person than to keep comparing myself to others and letting my inadequacies — real or perceived — weigh on me so. But I’m also annoyed that I feel that way, and wonder how much of that shame seed is sown by folks who profit from our incessant use of social media.
To paraphrase a line that means a lot to me, comparison at scale may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for me it’s poison.
- I still hop on Twitter sometimes because I learn about so much cool tech stuff that way, and it tends to be more news and witty jokes and less ego-blogging (I learned that term from Chantal on Made in Mexico. The irony.)