19 Oct Living in a Comparative Culture
Over this past summer, I realized that far too much of my life was spent living through the eyes of other people. Do you ever find yourself stuck scrolling past the perfectly curated lives of various Instagram accounts? This was my problem: I was so lost in trying to be perfect in a world that isn’t even real.
My self-esteem took a hit every time I opened the app, scrolling through pictures of models, actors, and people I went to high school with. Everyone was seemingly living their best life; everything was a circulated around parties, travel photos, gorgeous people, wealthy people, the list goes on and on.
Everything is highlighted in highlighter, making it hard to miss because everyone is always trying to promote the best parts of their life. I felt like I needed to be pretty and have some sort of good time to prove to others that I was relevant. It’s so stupid to think about and thinking about these things are damaging and tiring on anyone’s well-being. Thankfully my mental health never suffered, but there are people who suffer from these issues. It is a rise of comparative culture, and it’s having serious effects on everyone’s self-esteem.
TIME magazine came out with an article in 2017 arguing that Instagram is the worst social media app for your mental health. There is a high account of FOMO and with FOMO comes anxiety. It’s so bad for us, and we don’t care, but at the same time, we do.
We care because we are looking for some kind of reassurance and self-esteem booster. Personally, I was always comparing myself against people I was following, ranging from classmates from high school and university to glammed-up celebrities. I kept looking at the picture-perfect lives and looked down on my own. So much of my time was spent measuring myself up against someone else; I neglected to focus on myself.
Who was I trying to impress? A bunch of people I hardly see and a bunch of kids from high school that I probably won’t see again. All I needed to be concerned about was the opinion of myself. Is this who I want to be?
Everyone goes through the same issues with self-confidence and the pressure to live a certain lifestyle. Multiple celebrities have been public on their opinions about social media in regard to its tie to one’s mental health.
Recently, Shay Mitchell posted a photo of a manicured hand holding a phone with a sticker saying, “social media seriously harm your mental health,” and an accompanying caption of “do you agree?”. Nearly a million likes and hundreds of comments following along with this post agreed: social media most definitely affects your mental health.
Do I really need to take a picture to prove it happened or that I was doing something cool? Why should I care what somebody else thinks? When my opinion is the only one that shapes me.
According to BBC nearly 40%, which is roughly 3 billion(!) use social media on a daily basis.
Using social media platforms like Instagram – which by the way is the worst for your mental health and wellbeing – create an environment where multiple elements of your life are negatively affected, such as stress, mood, anxiety, depression, sleep, self-esteem, and well-being. Everything becomes a comparison, and this is damaging.
Kate Winslet said in the Sunday Times that social media “has a huge impact on young women’s self-esteem because all they ever do is design themselves for people to like them.”
The negative effects Instagram reaches every level of status, celebrity and not. Summer Mckeen, a Youtuber and LA-based model, made a videodiscussing the unrealistic ideals of social media and Instagram. Her testament to the toxicity of this curated world shows that not even models have it perfect.
Overall, let’s promote love and positivity to help our mindsets evolve into a more accepting outlook. I think we need to realize that we are ALL different and beautiful in our own ways. There is no definition or image that should represent beauty.
Now let me get all cheesy and say that beauty truly starts from within. How you express yourself outwards towards others conveys more about your beauty as a human being, than any glamourize picture ever will.