Those who haven’t been there, cast the first stone at me:
I sit in my small and ordinary apartment, flipping through my Facebook feed. I see Jane’s photos from her trip to New Zealand, I read Mark’s post about his promotion, and I start wondering why my life is so dull.
Oh, those happy moments on Facebook! Don’t they give us the impression that everyone else is living to the fullest—except us? This story is as old as Adam.
In 2012, Utah Valley University’s team studied 425 undergraduates’ subconscious perceptions to seemingly successful and happy people’s posts on Facebook.
Conclusion? The more time a student spent on Facebook, the more likely he was to believe that his friends lived happier lives, and that life itself was unfair.
We plagiarize from the Facebook friends we consider smart, confident, and successful. We copy their posts—not literally—but to create positive associations around our personas.
So does the study say that Jane’s and Mark’s lives aren’t exciting? Do they share pictures from trips and posts about promotions for me to think they are cool? If that is their intention, they are doing a good job.
And yet, the desire to meet others’ expectations, prove something to a social medium, and look our best to the world can feel depleting and depressing. For me, it turned into copying Jane and Mark even outside of Facebook.
Their way of talking, their reactions, and their responses to any given situation creeped into my everyday life. Every time I asked myself, “What would Jane do?” or, “How would Mark respond to that?” it seemed like I started forgetting the real me. Or, to be specific, I stopped searching for the real me.
But why did I try so hard to become a duplicate, to be unoriginal?
What’s wrong with the desire to be happy? Well, the happiness epidemic might lead to stagnation.
The fear of making autonomous decisions and the fear of disapproval–these may be the consequences of comparing ourselves to others and copying them online—which then, as in the case with me, echoes our real lives beyond Facebook.
How do we combat this? The answer is self-esteem.
Often, our desire to adapt to others’ way of thinking, please them, and earn their approval indicates low self-esteem or, in other words, self-rejection.
So, don’t try to please others and don’t wait for their approval.
There are two reasons why this doesn’t work:
1) You are not them.
2) They are not you.
Besides, who said that happiness comes to those not deviating from standards?
Can’t we become happy once we stop chasing a rainbow?
We can. The trick is to accept our real selves.
Author: Lesley J. Vos
Image: YouTube screenshot
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Leah Sugerman