As someone who works in social media, I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook, and therefore am constantly being reminded about what other people are doing, eating, feeling, celebrating, hating, and loving at any given moment. Escaping the noise of other people’s need to announce their existence in every format possible has proved to be a weird challenge for me. Most days I oscillate between giving up on the Internet entirely, and wanting to be a loud member of the conversation alongside everyone else.
In the xoJane post, “The Competition Is Killing Us: When Social Media Makes You Feel Like Crap”, editor Lesley Kinzel confesses what I think a lot of us experience as we are constantly bombarded with updates about other people’s lives. From jealousy, to sadness, self-doubt and even anger, often knowing even the most inane information about someone else can make us feel bad about ourselves in comparison. Engagement announcements, houses bought, jobs acquired, weight lost – simply logging into Facebook can be a trigger for all the goals or aspirations we have not yet met. But let’s remember, “yet” is the operative word in that sentence, because the truth is, much like “reality” shows, the online content everyone shares online is a choice, and a highly curated one at that.
“What we forget is that social media is not an all-seeing eye.” Writes Kinzel, “We choose the things that we share. Indeed, this is partly why social media is so seductive — it gives us the opportunity not only to aspire to the perfected ideals others promote, but it also enables us to craft our own faux personas, to portray our own lives with an intoxicating degree of control.”