Social media can easily become the thief of joy


There is something almost therapeutic about swiping and scrolling through feeds with glazed eyes, double tapping every so often when the mood strikes.

It’s like giving yourself what seems to be a much-needed brain break from reality, openly letting yourself delve into the worlds of the people whose faces and lives fill your screen. Probably, this is why people constantly whip out a phone to get the newest updates on the happenings of the world through Instagram or other social media: to escape reality just for a little while.

However, what’s difficult about this quick “escape” is the return back to the real world, when phones are powered off and reality is an unavoidable given, waking you up from the pleasant dream of how things could be. Even more difficult than the back and forth, though, is when the lines between social media and true reality blur, making the two impossibly hard to distinguish.

In my experience, it’s temptingly easy to fall into a pattern of building up this image of what you want people to see. The unfortunate lie we begin to believe the deeper we embed ourselves into social media is that it’s better not to show our true selves and flaws because our everyday realities are far less exciting than the curated and posed pictures that make us seem extraordinary. Sadly, the part we fail to realize is that the truth is still somewhere in between the two, not too distant from either.

A question I’ve always had about social media is this: why do we post? A few years ago, I definitely would’ve answered hurriedly and defensively saying that it’s an easy way to keep in contact with people I don’t see on a regular basis. While that point may be valid, most of the time, I don’t think most people are envisioning the distant relatives or old friends that will be seeing the posts seconds before they hit the “post” button.

I would say that, more often, people are thinking about the instant gratification earned from posting, whether it be getting a certain number of likes or a certain number of comments. It’s a constant reward system that returns a short-lived confidence boost, as more people react to the flawless personality you project yourself as. As twisted as it may sound, owning the envy of other people is a strangely addicting cause, an issue that usually only rears its ugly head when people are in the midst of comparing themselves to others.

However, what we’re comparing ourselves to is an imaginary person or lifestyle; what we’re comparing ourselves to is an idealistic version of everyone, a mere caricature of the truth. Looking at social media as if it is reality is like looking at the world through rose-colored glasses and pretending that everything is truly more glamorous than it is. It’s allowing yourself to believe that people are the image and wall they put up for others to see, and furthermore, it’s allowing yourself to believe that you are the image and wall you put up for others to see.

I’m definitely not innocent to pretending to be someone and something I am not. Throughout my whole life, I’ve been bound to the need for comparison, and honestly, social media quickly became an enabler for my desire to do so.

Somehow, while social media is on the rampage, I think we’ve all lost a little bit of ourselves to the picturesque person we’ve perfected ourselves to be online. The thing is, pure joy can be our reality, and simply harnessing that truth is the key to ending the unhealthy cycle circulating through social media. Rather than worrying about capturing the moment with a picture or video, soak in those moments of bliss and feel them for what they are, not for what they should look or feel like.

A good friend of mine said in a recent post of hers that “comparison is the thief of joy,” and I agree with her 1000%. Even though we still may fall prey to the plague of comparison, it doesn’t mean that we have to let it rob us of the blessings and happiness of life.

Social media, with all its ups and downs, is a tool;  truly, how we use it wholly depends on us and the truths we are willing to accept.