Enough With Everyone’s Perfect Life!

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The other day i was so pleased with an apricot-almond smoothie i made the decision to post t on instagram. First, though, i browsed friends’ feeds. Forty-five minutes later, i was almost dizzy from the endless slide show of the perfect life: one person serenely paddleboarding (“got the hang of it after one lesson!”), another lounging on a hotel bed (“just had the best. Massage. Ever”). Oh,,and a smoothie-this one perched on a hibiscus covered balcony overlooking a Caribbean beach. I grabbed my phone and deleted the photo of my now schlumpy drink.

These days, it’s gotten impossible not to feel like you’re being one-upped online. You ran a 5K? Big deal, when your co-worker posts pictures of her half marathon… for charity. Meanwhile, social media users have perfected the art of simultaneously moaning and boating, aka moasting: “someone just asked me what I’m studying in college-hello, i’m 34!”

I realized these posts and pretty pictures are often curated and edited. So why do i still have that constant feeling that my own life pales in comparison?  In fact, researchers are discovering that being immersed in everyone else’s general awesomeness online can be mentally bad for you. A study from the university of Michigan showed that the more time we browse Facebook, the more or sence of well-being drops and lonely feelings jump. One German study found that after people spent time on Facebook,a full one third felt frustrated upset or envious (friend’s vacation snaps riled them up the most.)

This feeling is intensified as we increasingly take our relationships online,says psychologist gregory jantz, author of hooked: the pitfalls of media, technology and social networking. “One of the biggest groups of Facebook users is women age 32 tto 45″, he notes,”and about 35 percent of the younger ones admit that the first thing they do after they crawl out of bed, before they go to the bathroom, is check Facebook”. Adding to our neediness is the addictive-and sometimes maniacal-pursuit of “likes”. According to one consumer-trends survey, 62 percent of people say they feel better about themselves when others approve of something they post on social media. The flip side is the insecurity that creeps in when only a few people “like” your photo, and the jealousy you feel when a friend’s photo gets a flurry of thumbs-ups.

Of course, it’s human nature too want to present your best self to the world. The ancient Egyptians threw on kohl liner and the most stylish linen tunic before hitting the market. “There’s something alluring about creating an online persona that says, ‘im interesting, i have a well-kept home, i eat good food-this is my life!'” Says Andrea bonior, PhD, adjunct professor of psychology at Georgetown university. “We look to our social media profiles to validate what we want to believe about ourselves”. Yet this fluff fest can lead to anxiety about being exposed as a fraud, as in living in fear that a high school pal will comment “haha i remember when you had a much larger nose!” Beneath your glam photo.

To End the jolts of jealousy, jantz has a suggestion. When you read a post that leaves you feeling less than ideal, remember that were all scrupulously  control our self-image. I know it’s true.recently i posted a picture and someone commented “you look amazing “well,yes; thats because i held the camera so high above my head, it could’ve been taken by a satellite in space”.

It also helps to be aware of what sets off self-doubt. “If you hate your old kitchen, maybe you shouldn’t repeatedly check out Mary’s kitchen renovation” bonior says. My downfall is others triumphs.a few shots of a friends cyclo-cross race are inspiring:  scrolling through hundreds make me think “why bother” and shuffle off to the couch. Timing is another trigger. I look at these fabulous pictures before bed,when I’m tired and need to decompress-exactly when i feel most sensitive.

Another cyber solution is too fully getbehind your posts.as benior says, “you can chose to use others experiences as a yardstick, or you can believe your standards are valid in and of themselves “. Also, back away from the computer-often. “Relationships are best conducted in real life” jantz says “not 140 character sound bites”.

Jantzs words were on my mind when i saw a friend’s instagram shots from a trip to Greece. Instead of caving in to jealousy, i called abd told her that the photos were like a Ralph Lauren ad. She laughed and said “don’t look too close or you’ll see my eyes are red” ten minutes beforehand, she and her husband had a big money fight; the trip, she conceded, was great but had been a costly mistake. We commiserated about finances and made plans to meet. I felt a surge of pleasure as i hung up.

Now if insecurity sneaks up on me while I’m online, i take it as a sign to switch gears as nd go for a ruin,make another unphotogenic smoothie or check out the YouTube clip my mother sent of, say, a Speedo clad squirrel eating an ice cream cone. Also, maybe ill avoid beyonces instagram altogether

*taken from health magazine january 2015*

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