Doing What Must Be Done

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My greatest source of unhappiness is my need to compare myself to others. It’s like an addiction. I know better, and I know it will never bring happiness just like my mother knew smoking was bad for her.I’ve spent my whole life trying to break the habit, but I fall back to every time. Social media is like giving the keys to the liquor cabinet to a recovering alcoholic.

Sometimes I think about getting rid of social media all together and trying to learn just to live on my own.  However, then how would I connect to most of my friends in and here.  I’d be isolated, yet free from the curse of comparison.

Why, oh why, do I do this?

What’s worse is that a good chunk of people I know — the narcissistic ones — are doing the same thing and desperately trying to make their lives seem more wonderful than they are.  It’s like certain people use social media as a new “outcompete the neighbors”.  We got to see who’s happier, more successful, and who’s got the more loving partner and the better circle of friends.

I used to find myself wanting to join in the rat race, but these days I actually post more personal stuff here than on places where people know me. I feel like if people know you in real life you can’t be yourself in your online life.  After all, you have to impress people.

When you are anonymous, it’s less about impressing and more about connecting and empathizing with others. The readers of my blog actually know more about what’s going on in my life than anyone who reads my personal social media.

That’s all because when I post in those places I feel that former acquaintances there are looking for even the slightest bit of unhappiness to assure themselves they have the superior story going on.  I tire of this rat race.  I tired of feeling compared and pushed to compare myself.

I like improving myself for me, not because I’m afraid of being regarded as less important.

It’s like elementary school all over when people had to prove their “worth” so that they would have friends. If you didn’t have enough social influence, you were dismissed as not important enough to be seen with. I didn’t think I’d ever get away from the people who think that way, but I started to in college.

Then when I joined the JET program and went to Japan, I discovered a large chunk of the coworkers thought exactly how the kids in elementary school thought.  It was all about climbing the social ladder and comparing yourself to others and where they stood on it.

Many of those same people still think this way.  They fret over how many “happy birthdays” they get on facebook and how many likes per post. If they don’t get enough they sink into a social media depression and feel they’re losing popularity.

Is there anyway to escape comparing yourself while using social media?  It’s seems built to drive comparing ourselves to others.

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15 thoughts on “Doing What Must Be Done

  1. I agree with you. Actually I have a photo of me here, but I do not have any readers from my country. I started to blog in English in an international platform just to avoid my real life acquintances. If I am honest, I admit that my blogging activity is trying to fill a kind of void. Although I have acquintances in my real life, sometimes I want to receide from the everyday life competitions of “who is happiest/richer/smarter?”. I.e. If I would like to speak about a classic book I have read and found some interesting ideas, some acquintances conceil their ignorance by pretending to be too busy or successful to read classic books. Disappointing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You summed up my feelings so well in your comment. They “hiding their ignorance by pretending to be too busy” really strikes a chord. They should just say they have no interest or passion for it and move on.

      All this pretending is so frustrating. This competing with each other is so tiring.

      That’s really cool that you can take if further and blog in another language.

      I find anonymity feels so freeing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this feeling so well. Blogging anonymously definitely removes the filter of who people “think” they know you as. Then you can write with more truth, less fear, more transparency.

    That said, I quit Facebook two years ago, mainly because of the fertility triggers, and haven’t looked back since! I’m not on Twitter, Instagram, or whatever else the cool kids are doing. If social media is causing you to feel badly about yourself, chop it off. Or, connect only with those people who you actually like and care about in real life.

    It’s been a huge weight off my back to disconnect from social media: less stress of trying to appear a certain way, less time spent looking at the probably fake lives of others, and a better way to connect with people in real time.

    Peace. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your great comment. I’ve definitely been weighing that very thing you suggest and go through pros and cons.

      I use facebook as just a pm and bookmark service now. I’ve been trying to see if I could just avoid looking at anything other than the private messages.

      I should do what needs to be done, but it feels like such a leap.

      I’m so impressed you were able to do it. It sounds like it has really improved your well being.

      Like

    1. I thought I was alone in feeling this way, but a lot of people feel the same. Anonymity brings real honesty. We want to open our hearts, just not to people who know us on a surface level and will probably judge our situation.

      Fb is rapidly becoming just a messenger service to me.

      Like

  3. Oh I’m the same! And it becomes a bit of an attention seeking game….I don’t post on FB often but when I do I have to keep seeing who has bothered to like or comment and then feel sad when people haven’t. I have a semi anonymous twitter account, so am more openthere than on FB but then that means I hesitate about meeting and twitter friends in real life because then they might view me differently cos they’ve seen my honesty already….so tough I want to get rid of SM, but then I worry I’d miss feeling connected to people, but then the connections aren’t often that genuine anyway, and sometimes being on SM results in feeling less connected…..such a viscous cycle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true. It seems like when I meet someone in real life they take less interest in my social media accounts. Maybe that’s human nature. Once we see the real thing, the substitute just isn’t as interesting? Or the reverse?

      Facebook is the worse in my opinion about creating an air of competition. I think it’s the lack of anonymity there that makes it worse.

      In a strange way we can feel happy for a stranger. However, when we know someone in real life there seems to be this competition to outdo them. Group dynamics enter the picture when we know them. When we are anonymous we are all equal. We are not competing for a place in the social hierarchy when we are anonymous.

      So sad that this happens.

      Like

  4. For us, the newsletter we publish every quarter is the only media that would identify us – and that only goes to a selection of people whom we are close to. Eg the latest one with a group photo was intended to be shared with a larger audience of close friends across the globe.
    Otherwise to all others we remain anonymous as Mel and Suan. Some call her Susan but we’ll leave it to the imagination. Because its nowhere near her real name. At some stage of one’s life, one might consider taking a more “nonchalant” attitude to life (as to who cares) and just carry on. Write what you wish (responsibly) and leave all that comparing to the folks who wish to stress themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. That sounds like a really good way to handle it. I wish I could develop that “who cares” attitude. I’ve been trying for a decade, but I can’t seem to get it. I think for me it’s better to just stay away from the situation since I’ll always compare myself on some level.

      Thank you for the great thoughts as always.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Doc Kandinsky

    FB and twitter friends have always been nothing more than clients. Some sell unnecessary products other sell their lies. There’s no real conversation on these media just make believe business.
    As to the anonymity I agree that’s a good part. It helps me to little by little start to stop lying to myself. I don’t care about likes and prefer real comments like the ones I read here. Thanks Mara for bringing the subject up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yea sometimes looking at facebook and instagram can be depressing when it seems like everyone has perfect lives. I always try to remind myself that it’s often fake, and you aren’t hearing about the bad days and what’s really going on. I’ve noticed that when people do post more “real” statuses about having a bad day or being sick, people don’t always like it! I’ve a friend who unfollowed another friend as she thought she was always “complaining” (she had health problems and probably depression). It’s like some people prefer to see the fake version of people. I would rather when people are real. That’s why I love blogs so much as you can relate so much more! I’ve considered leaving facebook too but as you mention when you live abroad it’s a nice way of keeping in touch and knowing what other people are up too. Although it can be hard when you see pictures of all your old friends hanging out together back home without you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly.

      I’m sorry about your friend who unfollowed because of the “complaining”. I had a friend who did the opposite. She unfollowed people because they were too happy. I think she’d be better off leaving facebook, but then comparing herself seems to be how she gets self esteem. She counts the likes.

      I feel like facebook used to be more honest and open like blogs, but not anymore. I hope blogs never go that way.

      Like

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