Thanks to technology, we are more connected with others than ever before. Take myself for example. I have 3 email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Runtastic, Untappd, Garmin Connect, and a blog, and I’m sure that’s only half of the social media/technology that others are plugged into on a daily basis. It has its perks. Having a vast network of friends, even those I have never met in real life, gives me a built-in motivation and support system. People are there to cheer me on when I’ve succeeded at a huge work project or set a personal best in the marathon. They are there to provide words of support when I falter or bomb a training run. They are there to share funny memes and videos, delicious recipes, and quotes that make me smile and sometimes roll my eyes.
The connectedness also has a darker side, the side which leads me to compare myself in pretty much all aspects of life. For example, here’s a typical conversation inside my head while scrolling through Instagram, which happens to be my favorite social media platform.
Scroll, scroll, scroll. Oh, love the quote, “Someone busier than you is running right now!” Oh wait, that someone is me. Shit, you need to get that run in today. Note to self – run tonight.
Look at that amazing and healthy lunch he packed! You really need to start eating more like him. Seeing as you just scarfed down a Dairy Queen chicken basket in the front seat of the car while sitting in the health department parking lot so you didn’t have to bring it in and eat it in health shame, you could really use that salad right about now. But you have to admit the chicken basket was amazing. Come to think of it, you totally got gypped on the Texas toast! Demand a chicken basket redo!
Scroll, scroll. Looks like all of your friends got runs in this morning before you even got your lazy butt out of bed. And they are getting faster and running farther! Much faster than you. Steph, all you are doing is getting slower. How do you ever thing you’re going to be able to run another sub-4 hour marathon in May if you don’t get on a regular training schedule?! Holy crap and some are getting runs in during the day and double run days at that! Jealous! I’m sitting at work on my ass, which is expanding, and they are running free. Don’t they work?! Steph, that was totally not nice. Quit that crappy ass negative thinking about your friends. If they heard you right now, they would think you are a total bitch. You must be a total bitch for being jealous of your friends over running. Do you hear how ridiculous you sound?
Scroll, scroll, scroll. I think she just had a baby a couple months ago and look how thin and toned she is! If you weren’t too lazy, Steph, you could look like that too. But probably not. Besides, you look pretty good…for having 4 kids. Who are you kidding? You’re saying that to make yourself feel better. Did it work? Maybe, depends on the day.
Another head of gorgeous, thick hair. Another beach vacation. Another picture of a beautiful new house, just like one you have always wanted. Why are you not content with anything you have?! What the hell is wrong with you?!
See, so not cool. Self-confidence is eroded, and jealousy rears its ugly head. It’s not all the time, but it happens more than I’d like to admit. It’s probably the perfectionist in me. Never quite happy because I’m not the best but not stopping to think that I can’t always be the best. I might not even be the best some of the time or even just once. But can I be better than I was before? Can I improve? Have I improved? Instead of comparing myself to my friends, shouldn’t I compare myself to the person I was 1, 3, 5, or 10 years ago? Have I grown? I would like to think that the answer is yes.
Does this mean I’m going to leave social media? No, I think I’m too nosy to stay away, plus some people are just such great entertainment, but I will make a more conscious effort to quit playing the comparison game. I need to remind myself that people generally only put the really great things on social media, things they are proud of and rightfully so, but it’s not real life. Real life isn’t running 7 super-fast miles in your sports bra and booty shorts with six-pack abs while your perfectly highlighted hair flows behind you all while on a sunny beach with your hot husband, two beautiful kids who look like Gap Kids models, and dog who doesn’t regularly poop on the floor. Life is life, and it’s great and sucks and is messy for all of us. But it sure can be fun.