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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Living in the Age of Social Comparison …

Social comparison theory, initially proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954 states that there is a drive within individuals to gain accurate self-evaluation.

Social comparison is when we determine and compare our own social and personal worth on the basis of how we stack up against others. We are constantly making self-evaluations across a variety of domains (for example: attractiveness, wealth, intelligence and success).

So what methods do people use to self-evaluate and how does it affect us?

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is nothing new, but times have changed, where once we compared against only our immediate surroundings, our view to the outside world is now more reaching than ever before.

We are living in the information age…..internet, social network and mainstream media are constantly bombarding information at us, information which will make others look successful, prosperous, happy, generally like they’ve “made it”. The more information we are bombarded with the more we have to perform our comparisons. "Social media is basically social comparison on steroids," says Ramani Durvasula, psychology professor at California State University. But is the image portrayed by other really a true picture? And furthermore is the portrayed image attainable?

The more you compare yourself to others, especially via social media, the more negative headspace you create for yourself. Psychotherapist Daniela Tempesta states, “The art of what makes life awesome and interesting is learning from the talents of others. Instead of trying to be as good as or better than others, focus your energy on being the very best version of yourself.”
Some research already point out …

1. People who constantly compare themselves to others tend to be less happy. And frequent comparisons experience more destructive emotions and behaviours.

2. People do social comparison in a simple, straightforward fashion: if they are better off than similar others (downward social comparison), they feel satisfied, if they are worse off than similar others (upward social comparison), they feel dissatisfied.

3. Unhappy people, make frequent spontaneous social comparisons. Happy people had less vulnerability to the available comparison, they simply did not pay as much attention to how well others were doing.

4. We have become so focused and so obsessed with creating the perfect digital versions of ourselves that we forget to nurture ourselves in the real, three-dimensional world.

5. Smiling depression means to appear to be happy, smiling and positive, but in reality, be miserable. This is sadly becoming more common occurrence. With social media, people are able to focus on key aspects of their lives, highlighting the positive and putting a curtain over anything and everything they want to hide.

We’re so busy continuously scrolling, curious about what we’re missing out on and what everyone else is doing or looking like, in such pursuit we neglect ourselves. Steve Furtick was once quoted as saying “the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel”, there’s something in that………don’t you think? 

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