Today is day 9 of my mini-vacation. It's been refreshing, energizing, and productive! If you missed my first post of this blog series, Why I'm Taking Facebook Breaks, you can read it by clicking onto the link. www.danaarcuri.com/blog/why-im-taking-facebook-breaks
The comparison trap is nothing new. Before modern technology, I'd be perusing a fashion magazine or watching my favorite movie. While I'd admire the flawless skin of a famous model or adore her beautiful sleek gown that fit her like a glove, something in me would feel inferior. I wasn't thin enough. My teeth were not straight enough. My tummy wasn't flat enough. Basically, I just wasn't enough!
Of course, photoshop can make even the most ordinary of women appear extraordinary. Our world has distorted beauty. It's led countless females to go to great lengths in the quest to look the best. Eating disorders. Depression. Cosmetic surgery. That's just to name a few consequences of getting caught up in the comparison trap.
While most people will not admit they compare themselves to others from time to time, I believe it's our human nature. According to Waking Times in their article, The Science of Why Humans Constantly Compare Themselves to Others, "Human beings have a tendency to compare themselves to others and it is as automatic as any other human emotion. But the negative effects of comparisons keep us from our growth and embracing our greatest abilities to share with others."
Although outer appearance may be one method of comparing ourselves to others, it's not the only way. When we're scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed, we're bombarded with exciting news about our friends or family. A new shiny car. Caribbean cruise. A big promotion. Or there's the nonstop posts where people share pictures of their gorgeous home, newly decorated living room, or remodeled kitchen. And there's constantly people sharing their children's success in school, college, or some form of accomplishment.
As we continue gazing at our newsfeed, we read a post where someone's sharing a beautiful image of her and her husband. Joyfully, the woman shares how wonderful her partner is, how perfect their marriage is, how much they are in love, and that they never ever fight. (Silently, I'm thinking, "You've got to be kidding. There's no marriage made in heaven!)
In the meanwhile, her husband spends more time at his office with his secretary than he does at home with his family. What we don't see on Facebook is that behind the scenes, this attractive smiling couple is on the brink of an ugly divorce. That they're going to spend the next year in court fighting over who gets to keep the house and how they're going to split up child custody.
People want to put their best foot forward. They want to give a good impression that they're happy and successful, especially on Facebook. For some folks, it's embarrassing to admit their marriage is on the rocks, they're in foreclosure, or they gained 25 lbs over the holidays. That's why we see posts of gifts, vacations, or dining out, instead of a status that says, "We're falling apart and can use your prayers."
Of course, there are many legitimate posts that are real. Authentic people sharing their lives in various ways on Facebook. Transparent family and friends, near and far, who overall are doing quite well. Although I'm sincerely happy for them to have these positive blessings in their lives, I can't help but ask God, "Why not me?"
Seriously, I'm baffled at why everyone else seems to get ahead in life, become more successful, prosper, have wonderful marriages, enjoy multiple vacations, afford all of the good in life, their books fly off the shelves as bestsellers, their kids are self-motivated and flourishing, and everything appears perfect.
Humbly, this leads me straight into the arms of Jesus. When I cry out to share my disappointment, anger, and jealousy. When I confess my envy and I ask God for forgiveness. And when I'm truly being honest with myself, I can admit there are moments when Facebook causes me to feel overwhelmed. I get so tired of watching everyone else get ahead in life, while I feel like a hamster stuck on that darn wheel. I keep trying to work harder and faster, but despite my efforts, I'm running in vicious circles getting nowhere.
Eventually, I grow weary and depressed so I must unplug. I take time out to focus on what is good in my life. It's only during this quite moment that I can start to see the bigger picture. That God has a perfect plan for me. He does bless me abundantly. My purpose and my blessings may not look like other peoples. It may not be in a worldly or monetary way. Instead, I must surrender my idea of successful and my vision of what my life "should" look like to simply let God be God.
The best way to avoid falling into the Facebook comparison trap is to create healthy boundaries on social media. From time to time, step away and take frequent breaks. For some people, it may be for 24 hours. For others, it can mean one week or one month, depending on the circumstance.
Also, we must realize that what we read and see on social media in no way reflects 100% of what is truly going on in these people's lives. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we need to discover our identity with Christ. The only way to fully grasp His unconditional love for us and how much He cherishes us is to dive into His Word. Sometimes we need a daily reminder, which is another reason to unplug from Facebook so we can tune into God.
As for my 9 day Facebook break, it's improved my attitude, increased my prayer time alone with God, and gave me the opportunity to reach out to feed a homeless man. I feel more at peace, more motivation, and experiencing brighter moods. Most exciting of all, I hear the Lord's calling upon my life. He's guided me to write my fourth book, Sacred Wandering: Growing Your Faith in the Dark. I'm on top of the world getting much writing accomplished!
In addition, I'm able to truly be present in the moment with my husband and kids. To have uninterrupted time together. To help my daughter type her resume and pursue her dream job. To munch on chips with my husband as we relax to watch our favorite show. To have deeper and more meaningful conversations. To go shopping with my mom whose been battling brain cancer for ten months. To treasure these moments. To make the most of each day.
If you're wondering when I'm going to return to Facebook, I haven't made a final decision. However, I'd like to continue my break for at least another week. Now that I'm moving and grooving with my writing, I want to take advantage of this quality time.
If you ever got caught up in the comparison trap how did this impact your confidence? Do you need little breaks from Facebook? Have you created healthy boundaries on social media? Feel free to leave a comment or share your own Facebook experiences.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” ~Steve Furtick