The Perils of Social Media Stress and the Pressure to "Keep Up"

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by Jolie Doggett of justJOLIE

You wake up on a Monday morning. Conduct your daily scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. What do you see? Selfies of friends on their work commutes. A few Monday inspirational quotes. Your basic has hashtags: #workflow, #grindtime. Okay. that’s fine.

You get home Monday evening all you really want to do is sit and eat. Maybe take a nap. You plop down on your couch or bed and take a peek at your Instagram. What do you see? Photos of people in their new name brand outfits. Your friends are steady grinding. #TeamNoSleep. Right…

It’s Saturday morning. You’ve had a hard busy week. You feel like sleeping in until you see your news feed on Facebook. Posts saying “Up and at ‘em!” … “Headed to the gym!”…. “While you’re laying in your bed I’m stacking up this money!” Seriously? Now, this is getting ridiculous.

Is there really no rest for the weary?

Why do we feel obligated to share our every move? Today, there’s an unspoken pressure to let everyone know what you’re doing every minute of every day. On the flip side, there’s an additional stress to make sure you have something share worthy to show all of your followers that you’re driven and not lazy and that you’re living the life of your dreams.

Social media is becoming the 21st century edition of keeping up with the Joneses!

Meanwhile, we’re also putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves when we compare our daily lives with the lives people choose to broadcast. It can be a little disheartening when I go online and see people getting great deals, new things, and making new moves.

While at certain points, sharing our successes and daily rituals through social media can be cathartic and even motivational, eventually it becomes a little overwhelming almost to the point of bragging when you see the same person hyping up their every minor move (You’re going to work. in a new outfit. again. I get it.)

This is not to say that we should feel bad for celebrating our life achievements on social media. I am saying that the feeling of inadequacy that accompanies a daily scroll through social media accounts is unnecessary. We put so much pressure on ourselves and each other. Just because people can’t see what you’re doing doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything. Not to mention it sets an unrealistic standard. No one’s life is “on” 24 hours a day. Even Oprah sleeps.

Meanwhile, there are people who will actually make their followers feel bad if they aren’t keeping up with their momentum. These are Cyber Bullies 2.0. They’re always posting selfless in the gym, of their suit and tie combo, of their never ending night life, of them spending money on expensive “business trips”, of their new car. Does anyone know what these people actually do for a living?!  All the while, they’re so in touch with the entire world’s news that they have a criticism for every “injustice” and policy that’s happening. Please forgive me if I don’t know the most recent crisis in Djibouti. I just don’t have the time.

If we carry on comparing our journey to the journeys of others, we’ll never feel like we’re good enough. The only person you should compare yourself with is you. What are your goals? What is your timeline? What is possible for you?

So what if your YouTube videos don’t have a million views? So what if you’d rather hit the snooze button than jump out of bed and get to work? So what if you haven’t bought a new house or new car or that great 6-figure job yet?

Keep in mind, people only share the good stuff. You won’t see people sharing their sorrowful moments online (#SuperSadSelfies, if you will). People don’t share their car getting towed. Or their massive pile of school loans. Or their loved one’s gravesite. People don’t always expose the hardships and setbacks that make their steps toward success more believable and more relatable.

Remember, we’re all human, and we all have struggles and frustrations. We should not compare our progress to the progresses of others. Success comes in all shapes and sizes and at various times. Your time will come. And it will come again.

In a piece in the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell wrote: “On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble failure” I interpret that to mean that sometimes when success doesn’t come as quickly as we would like, we confuse that with ultimate failure in achieving our dreams. All the while, our goals are still very much attainable even if they don’t follow the same timeframe as others.

So, here’s some realistic motivation I’d like to add to the social conversation: Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior for your journey. Slow progress is still progress. It is better to get there on time and be prepared than to rush and end up completely over your head.

So keep working hard. And keep taking naps!

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