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How Social Media Manipulates Our Views on Winners and Losers

How Social Media Manipulates Our Views on Winners and Losers

Social media undoubtedly has it’s perks. Free advertisement, an endless opportunity for networking, and keeping in touch with long lost friends. But there is an incredibly sinister aspect to constantly staying, “connected.” Social media has negatively altered the way we view ourselves as well as others, and it just keeps getting worse.

The illusion of “perfect lifestyles” make us resent our own lives.

Social media is no longer just about sharing your thoughts and actions among your peers. It’s become a form of self promotion. Establishing a brand, and sharing the lifestyle that you lead.

However fabricated and fraudulent that supposed lifestyle may be, many of these individuals who follow these social media gurus honestly believe that these people lead flawless, exciting lives. To a degree, those who have honed the lifestyle career sentiment seem to have it all figured out. They have achieved ultimate freedom; except that they’ve made their lifestyles into their career and therefore everything they do and say is for show, and none of it is truly authentic.

But despite this disillusioning truth, the abundance of social media superstars make the average person feel as if their lives are not fulfilling,[1] and they’re not good enough to acquire such a following.

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People are beginning to rate their self worth in terms of likes and follows, as if that actually validates how valuable and interesting they truly are.

We judge the value of other people based on their following.

Millenials especially put a very strong emphasis on the importance of a social media following,[2] and how they perceive their peers. I have actually heard individuals between the age of 18-24 say, “They have to have at least ten-thousand followers before I’d even consider dating them.” And mean it.

I have to wonder, are they even slightly aware that they are lusting after a false ideal? With the abundance of picture altering apps, allowing the most average of individuals to airbrush their mediocre pictures to a stunning, flawless perception of themselves?

On social media, people have the freedom to only show people only what they want them to see. Many of these “perfect” posts require lots of careful planning, timing, and coordination. People spend hours trying to take that perfect picture, to give it that effortless image that so many strive for. Studies have shown that many of these individuals leading “perfect” lifestyles are actually incredibly stressed and suffer from anxiety and depression.

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Many online business entrepreneurs will tell you that in order to have a successful online following, you need to have a business plan. Having a strong social media following is anything but effortless. It takes a lot of work, planning, and countless hours of networking with people you will never meet nor will greet them by any other name than their social media identity.

FOMO: The Fear Of Missing Out

When many of us scroll through social media, we can’t help but feel a bit deflated while we view others hitting mile stones that we are still yet to hit. Even worse, for me anyway, we view people doing exciting and adventurous things while we struggle with envy, lurking from our average couch in our average home in an average place.

FOMO, the fear of missing out, is the negative sensation that we experience when we feel that someone is doing more or experiencing more than us, and we feel left out. By habitually plugging into social media, we are constantly reminding ourselves that there is more we could be doing with our lives, and makes us feel badly for not yet doing or achieving them.

Take the Power Away from Social Media

Although it seems like social media has a strong hold on just about everything these days, there are still those among us who manage to function without it, or with minimal contact.[3] Try these few tricks to weaken the hold that social media has on your life.

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Understand that it is all an illusion.

Realize just how much time and effort that goes into having a solid social media following. It’s like having a second job. It requires hours of time for planning and execution. Then, once the pictures are actually taken, consider the time taken to edit the pictures, finding the perfect filter and caption to match. And then the hashtags, oh the hashtags. Imagine how much could be achieved and how much happier the individual might be if they used that time to actually enjoy their surroundings and connect with the people who are actually around them.

Take a hiatus.

Smash that disable button, babe. Even if it’s just for a day. Take some time to disconnect and step away from the pressures and expectations of social media. There once was a time when you existed without it, and you can have that again. What is “that” exactly? It’s called freedom.

Challenge yourself, and plan for a reward in the end. Try to get a solid 3 days without social media. Delete the apps, do whatever you need to do so you don’t mindlessly start scrolling through without even realizing what you’re doing (it happens to us all). Treat yourself to a nice meal or something you normally don’t spoil yourself with. The more you start to disconnect, the more you realize how silly the social media culture truly is.

Find what empowers you.

You weren’t meant to live your life mindlessly staring at a screen. I’m sure you had interests once, ones that didn’t involve your phone or tablet. Reconnect with those things. Climb a tree. Read a book. Go for a walk. Take up knitting. Learn a dance routine. Do literally anything that doesn’t involve your phone.

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Developing a new skill will help to improve your self esteem, and will also help you to realize that you are meant to exist in the real world; and the best way to get the most out of life is to truly live it yourself.

Search for your peers.

Believe it or not, there are still people in existence (millenials no less!!) who do not have any social media accounts. They identified the toxicity attributed to constant connection and chose to reject it.

You don’t have to go completely cold turkey like these legends have, but learn from their values. I know it can be scary when most of your social development took place on a virtual platform, but you can learn to benefit from the art of conversation. There is no comparison to actually connecting with another individual, in contrast with sending an impersonal “like” or “poke” their way.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

Jenn Beach

Traveling vagabond, freelance writer, & plantbased food enthusiast.

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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