So, how can you survive the age of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with your self-esteem intact?
Imagine it’s Monday morning. You’ve started the morning on a high, thinking about the weekend you just spent with your family. It wasn’t as if you did anything spectacular – but you had some special times with your husband and kids that reminded you just how good life is.
Then, you switch on your laptop and check in on Facebook. The first post you notice is a picture of your neighbour’s new kitchen. Good for her, you think, and scroll down. An acquaintance is bragging about her new car; another has put up a picture of the sun setting over the Mauritius, captioned “Life’s so hard!”
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All of a sudden, it does seem as if life is hard – hard for you, that is, since everyone else has something to celebrate. Who wants quality time at home when you could be living it up on an island holiday? What seemed precious just moments ago has now taken on a shoddy, second-hand taint.
Before you start throwing your own pity party, take heart. As human behaviourist Dr John Demartini notes, “Nobody has a better life. They have a different life.”
He cites the example of a celebrity couple he met through work. He was helping the wife make the adjustment to motherhood from being a noted public figure. During one consultation, he noticed a cameraman posing as a window cleaner, climbing on a ladder so that he could take photographs of the mother and baby from a window. “From the outside, people saw this beautiful family with a gorgeous new baby, living an exciting, glamorous life. I got to see how they had to turn their home into a virtual prison to avoid photographers; the husband has to wear a disguise if he wants to go for a bike ride.”
A celebrity lifestyle no longer seems glamorous when viewed from that perspective. As Dr Demartini points out, if all the members of your neighbourhood were invited to put their problems in a bag and put them in the centre of a street, where you would be free to exchange and swap them for anyone else’s, you’d more than likely take back your own challenges. “Everyone has issues to deal with. If you wake up without a problem, you’re dead. At least you have the tools to deal with your own challenges.”
Fair enough – but it’s difficult to avoid that stab of jealousy when you see how many followers your competitors are gaining while your social media presence languishes. To this, Dr Demartini says, “Don’t compare your life to others; rather, measure your daily activities against your own dreams and priorities. When you compare yourself, you devalue your efforts and scatter your energy in pursuit of something that isn’t in keeping with what you really want.
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“Any time you see someone who has something that you really, really want, look deep inside and take note of what you already have,” he continues, adding that it’s worth remembering that there is a flipside to everything. Thus, no matter how thrilling your acquaintance’s time in Mauritius, at some point her pleasure will be diluted by some element of pain.
Admittedly, we all enjoy acknowledgement, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling pleased when your posts receive a thumbs up. But, says Dr Demartini, don’t look upon ‘likes’ as an endorsement of your character. Instead of using social media as a narcissistic tool – which no one appreciates – consider how you can serve your community by sharing information or inspiration that is truly meaningful. In this way, you’re not only providing a boost that all will enjoy; you can also build a personal brand.
Ultimately, however, there’s little point in becoming bogged down in your profile – or anyone else’s, for that matter. “Think about the most powerful people in the world, the ones who really make a difference – and ask yourself, do they care how many ‘likes’ they’ve received on a post?”