Comparison culture is taking a huge toll on our confidence. Throughout our lives, we’re constantly comparing ourselves to one another. Whether it be our looks, our careers, our accomplishments, our homes, our exercise routines, or even the food on our plates; self-comparison is rife in 2020 and not comparing yourselves to others is near impossible. Every time we go online, we see the highlight reels and best bits of flawless lives we dream of having. It all seems too good to be true, whether it’s an accurate reality that’s being portrayed or not. Online lives can seem so perfect in fact it makes you wonder, “Where did I go wrong, why doesn’t my life look like that?”
Comparison is basic instinct, it’s in our human nature and begins early on in life. The nature of comparison affects us all, from old to young, men to women, with women being more vulnerable to playing the comparison game due to society’s habit of pitting us against each-other. We naturally compare ourselves to the women we see across billboards and on our TV screens, we even compare ourselves to the supermodels we see on the glossy pages of a magazine. The result of comparison can leave us feeling envious and dissatisfied with our own lives, something that’s felt across generations and generations. Anyone who’s grown up in the era of photoshop and editing software knows that we’re surrounded by images that aren’t real, besieged with a distorted view of reality that makes us feel unworthy. Self-comparison is the nemesis of all generations.
Even though the comparison game is a dangerous one, its one we all still end up playing. When comparing ourselves to others; whether that’s a friend, a colleague, a sibling, or even a celebrity, we become tormented with self-doubt. An innocent scroll on Facebook and you learn that everyone you know from high school is getting married and having babies, people from college are buying houses and booking exotic holidays, and acquaintances who you can’t quite remember where you know them from are excelling in their careers and dating lives all at once. Its then that you realise you haven’t had a date in over a year, and your stuck in a mind-numbing desk job you loathe. When someone you know moves a step closer to living the life you wish you had, it’s hard not to take it personally. When you put away your phone you get an empty feeling; someone’s doing better than you, someone’s doing more than you, someone’s living the life you can only dream of. It feels like we’re losing a race we never signed up for in the first place.
The information we receive via the media on an hourly basis is overwhelming, we can peer into the lives of people from all over the world with a simple tap on our phones. But the definition of ‘real life’ gets cloudy when we’re discussing the images we’ve become accustomed to seeing. A lot of what we see is a half-truth, a staged example of what’s really going on behind closed doors. Despite most of us knowing and understanding this, it’s still hard to separate the real from the fake. The media has a huge responsibility to reflect the lives, the ‘real’ lives of those around us, but we also have a part to play too. It’s up to us to show as true a version of our personal realities as we can, the good along with the bad. The sooner we as a society come to realise our messy and imperfect lives are perfectly normal, the better.
We’re bombarded 24/7 with a filtered view of other people’s lives, whether we want to see it or not. We wake up and before we even get out of bed were scrolling, taking in snapshots of idyllic lives we really know nothing about. If you’re starting to feel lacking and lesser then every time you log on to an app, it’s time to start unfollowing and hit the mute button. We have a responsibility to manage what media we consume, and anything that makes us feel bad just isn’t worth our time or energy. When we start to focus our attention back on the real world and all of the good things in our lives we have going for us, maybe we’ll realise our lives aren’t so bad after all. So how do we break free from comparison culture? By dismissing the belief that the lives we see on our screens are real, or perfect. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Written by J’Nae Phillips