The tendency to compare ourselves to others is built into human nature and culture. However, in today’s world, social comparison is prevalent across technology and is more evident in teenagers. It has been put forward as a primary element of social standards. Watching an “ideal” life on social media may cause people to miss out on their own lives and what they lack in contrast. This pessimistic impact of social media on social comparison can lead to a negative self-image and despair because no matter how hard they strive; they’ll never get to the filtered version of reality that social media offers as standard.
The Theory of Social Comparison
Social media delivers an infinite amount of information about other people, what they are doing, and how they are feeling. Leon Festinger pioneered social-comparison theory, which contends that people have an innate tendency to evaluate their growth by comparing to others. When they build “upward” comparisons, they compare themselves to those they think are inferior to them. Considering the vibrant reel nature of Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks, it’s almost difficult to avoid upward comparisons. This can lead to frustration, despair, and even regret. When all a person observes from his friends are marriages, children, promotions, and their capacity to manage challenges without losing their cool, he may question where he went wrong in life.
Social comparison theory explains that Individuals use social information to learn about their situation. They compare themselves and their lives to others depending on the facts they learn about others. Given the extensive amount of social information available on social media, it is obvious that people have started comparing themselves to others.
Dynamics Of Social Comparison In The Age of Social Media
In this time of social media, cleverly developed social profiles often show flawless lives, intensifying the attraction for comparisons. Given the abundance and relevance of constructive inspiration and negative impacts, effectively managing this social media requires mindful interaction.
The impact of social media on social comparison has eventually lead the path to drastic patterns of thinking. It may include comparison with others who are better than us—”upward comparisons”—or inferior to us—”downward comparisons.” Either of these two comparisons on an output factor can affect self-analysis. The upward comparisons on related measures can lower confidence and self-esteem.
The dynamics of social balancing mostly come to pass with downward comparison. It may increase self-evaluation on key aspects, causing a self-growth effect. Surprisingly, the direction of comparison and the way an individual feels can both be influenced by the counterfactual—”what might have been”—that appears first.
The Convergence of Social Media and Comparative Behavior
Individuals judge their self-worth in comparison to others on digital platforms in the context of social comparison and social media. This constant exposure to well-chosen content frequently leads to feelings of inadequacy and uneasiness. Getting past this convergence definitely requires attention and an understanding of the potential impact on mental health and self-image.
Depression and stress are typically caused by the personal analysis of actual or fictional social scenarios. Some people might feel themselves in an inferior position to others, which ultimately lends a mental approach to losing confidence and social anxiety during interactions with others. At times, when this exceeds, loss of self-consciousness because of the social comparison can cause the unusual perception of depression, lack of communication, and even fear of the common interactions.
Contrasting Aspects Of Social Media on Comparison
The use of social media on networking sites covers a few contrasting aspects. Social media promotes worldwide discussions, knowledge sharing, and community creation. Platforms such as Twitter and Reddit support a variety of points of view. The positive aspect is the point at which a person feels eager, active, and aware. Such comparisons can be inspiring. It can also create a positive physiological response to other users’ online self-portraits.
The contrasting effect of social comparison, on the other hand, is the extent to which one feels negative emotions like hatred or anxiety. Users’ filtered, idealistic images of their lives can arouse envy. This can lead to detrimental social contrasts which increase anxiety and despair. As people try to build an idealized picture of themselves on the internet, the pressure to keep up a happy appearance can lead to despair. They substitute for hiding the dark sides of their lives while comparing their personal challenges to others’ glossy highlight reels.
Impact Of Social Media On Social Comparison Among Teenagers
Teens have a fundamental need for social connection and social sites provide a wide range of tools which may fulfill this need. One might therefore expect that the use of social media among youth positively impacts subjective well-being. However, longitudinal, experimental, and meta-analytic studies converge on the conclusion that social sites have a negative rather than positive effect overall on indicators of mental health. This implies that usage of social media not only instigates psychological processes which stimulate well-being but also processes that have a negative impact. Many scholars have pointed to online social comparison as a key mechanism underlying the detrimental impact of social media among teenagers.
How to Limit or Manage Social Comparison?
It can be tough to resist comparing yourself to others in today’s society. However, it is critical to understand how harmful social comparison could be to mental health. People must develop new social media methods and overcome their instinct to compare. They can reduce low self-esteem and depression by doing so. Those who are less likely to compare themselves to others, whether positively or negatively, are more at ease and far more adjusted. Check out these proven ideas on how to avoid and limit negative comparison and instead focus on personal objectives, targets, and well-being:
1. Spend Less Time On Social Media
It is essential to set limits for the frequently used apps with the goal of avoiding social comparison. Following not-so-good accounts can cause anxiety, stress, or dissatisfaction. Just like and follow accounts that offer joy and inspiration into life.
2. Identify Triggers
It is important to avoid that certain person or situation that triggers to make comparisons. Tracking triggers even for a week can help identify a pattern. Knowing triggers ultimately allow people to take proper action both before and after the comparison situation.
3. Only Compare Yourself to…Yourself
For the sake of better well-being, people should only think about self-comparison. Any type of comparison with friends, family, and neighbours can never result in a positive assessment. Individuals might say that they are doing great in their lives. But still, when they compare their personalities and progress with rich bosses, celebrities, social media influencers, and anyone who’s the best in their field of study or work.
4. Practice Gratitude
Committing to gratitude makes life richer, more colourful, and truly fulfilling. Teens, in particular, are more likely to be much more cheerful than they used to be when they express gratitude. Healthy comparison and gratitude practice not only help in the achievement of personal goals but also in the improvement of relationships with other people.
5. Go For Therapy
Changing mental habits and reducing the use of social media might be too difficult to accomplish on a personal basis. As it happens, there are several kinds of professional programs available, such as individual counselling or group therapy. Different therapies help build emotion regulation and mindfulness. People become more aware of their thoughts, actions and social factors. Counselling also helps discover greater depths of the underlying problems that might be causing excessive use of social media.
In a nutshell
Social comparisons take place at a record-breaking scale due to the increasing number of social networking sites. There is rising concern that online social comparisons are having an adverse effect on people’s subjective sense of well-being. The impact of social media on social comparison is here to stay. While it may be a challenge to resist comparing oneself to those who appear to be doing well, it would be helpful to kick off by accepting one’s own goodwill first.
It is more practical to work on identifying the growth someone achieves in contrast to his past self rather than racing after unreachable standards. Not everyone makes the same decisions, and not everyone’s reality is the same. Hence, the basis of estimating self-worth should be centred on oneself rather than on others.
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