This is my first post on the BYUWSR blog! I'll be honest in saying that while I'm grateful for the opportunity to contribute to such a great blog, I'm also more than just a little intimidated. The thought of so many strangers reading this is both exciting and a little scary. The Internet can be a very public place! That's actually what I wanted to write about for my first post.
|Image from http://blog.vmforsp.com|
We live in a society that, in many ways, is built around public profiles. That makes it very easy to get caught up in comparing ourselves to others. Social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as the myriad of blogging networks and other interfaces that allow us to become personal publishers with the click of a button, make it very easy for us to see into each others' lives. That is, they make it easy for us to the see the parts of each others' lives that we care to display. Women are especially prompted by social media to share and compare their lives through “mommy blogs,” Pinterest boards, and other public forums. With very little effort, we can create profiles that portray whatever aspects of our lives we care to highlight. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The Internet can be a great tool for celebrating and sharing the good in life. However, it is easy to forget that when we scroll through someone else's Facebook profile, blog page, or Instagram feed, we're probably not seeing the whole picture of that person's life.
Comparing our whole lives (which include awkward moments, messy kitchens, insecurities, disappointments, and even heartbreaks) with the shiny, polished bits and pieces of friends' or strangers' lives on the Internet can be dangerous. We might very well lead ourselves to think that our lives are not up to par—that there's something we're lacking because we don't have the wardrobe, body, job, house, family, or lifestyle that “everyone else” seems to have. Comparing ourselves to others, especially through what we see on the surface, can be a springboard for feelings of jealousy or inadequacy. Comparisons and the pressure that comes from comparisons can even lead to negative body image, low self-confidence, perfectionism, or feelings of depression.
So what's the solution to the issue of constant access to comparisons? How do we protect ourselves from the poisonous effect that comparisons can have? Just delete your Facebook account. Unsubscribe from ALL blogs. Uninstall the Instagram and Pinterest apps from your phone. Close your eyes and turn away every time someone mildly attractive or happy-looking walks past you.
Actually, don't do any of that. That's probably a little extreme.
In a 2010 CES devotional, Elder David A. Bednar said,
Brothers and sisters, please understand. I am not suggesting all technology is inherently bad; it is not. Nor am I saying we should not use its many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and brighten lives, and to build and strengthen the Church; of course we should. But I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones.
I'll support Elder Bednar's statement by saying that we should not squander authentic life experiences by obsessing over other peoples' experiences as portrayed online. One solution to avoiding the negative effects of comparisons would be to spend more time celebrating and creating the good that can exist in our very own real lives, and less time scrolling through the pages of other peoples' so-called picture-perfect lives. Let's not forget the excellence that is to be had in the lives we've been given!