Do you feel “less than” when you scroll through social media feeds, featuring flawless photos and seemingly perfect status updates? If so, it’s time to stop comparing your unfiltered life with everyone else’s filtered ones.
The truth is, all of us filter our content. Case in point. Last month, I was beyond excited to share that my friend and I are making a spontaneous trip to Italy that will let me visit some settings in my upcoming novel. Also last month, my refrigerator died, and I had to spend about the same amount of money to buy a new one as I had to pay for Italy travel.
Guess which experience I shared and which I didn’t? Exactly. After all, no one really cares or wants to know that my fridge died.
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But that’s the point. Real life, unfiltered life, is often inconvenient, less-than-ideal, and messy. Nine times out of ten, we don’t show that part of our lives online.
While there’s nothing wrong with putting our best face forward, the drawback is that we’re not presenting the complete picture. When other people look at us, they think we’re perfect. When we look at their feeds, we wish we could be more like them.
It’s a vicious, ridiculous cycle. The Bible makes clear that comparing ourselves to ourselves isn’t wise (2 Corinthians 10:12). Instead, let’s learn to accept our unfiltered lives. That doesn’t mean putting our messiness on display for all to see but learning to be content with the places and people God’s given us.
A Healthy Balance
Although some people simply unplug in response (and there’s definitely a time to do that), it’s possible to maintain a healthy relationship with social media without a constant comparison struggle. How? We can remind ourselves to:
- Be ourselves: God has gifted us each with unique talents, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, let’s focus on thriving in our own uniqueness and using it to bless others.
- Love our people. Yes, we see that engagement picture or baby announcement, and maybe a part of us wants to die inside because we would give anything to be in that photo or share that big news. Instead, let’s focus on the people we do have to love. We all have someone, and if you seriously can’t think of anyone, step outside your front door. There are plenty of lonely people in this world.
- Do our work. Some people are pharmacists, firefighters, pastors, teachers, entrepreneurs, etc. Each job has its own perks and pains. Instead of idolizing another’s calling, we need to give our best in our own (Colossians 3:23).
An Incomplete Picture
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for positive, uplifting content, and frankly, I have a low tolerance for online drama. Of course, there are also situations where being transparent and even vulnerable in our feeds can offer encouragement to others.
But the bottom line is that when we’re online, we only see part of the picture. Can we please learn to celebrate with others’ stories without wishing we were living them? After all, they have their own unfiltered lives with real struggles, just like us.