Have you ever scrolled through your social media pages just to see people that you know living what appears to be a lavish lifestyle? Between vacation photos, hanging out with groups of friends or just having photos of their pets and children, it can make you feel pretty down about your own situation. According to researchers, you’re certainly not alone in that feeling.
In fact, one study says that a majority of people believe that others have richer social lives thanks to social media. The study was conducted by Sebastian Deri, Shai Davidai and Thomas Gilovich, and it went in with the original thought that “people tend to see themselves in the best possible light.” Thanks to social media, however, that perception has changed over the years.
This study received responses from college students, online survey takers and in-person shopping mall surveys. What the researchers concluded was that the feeling of others having richer social lives spanned across all different types of demographics.
“We show that this bias holds across multiple populations, correlates strongly with well-being and is particularly acute for social activities,” the study said. “We argue that this pessimistic bias stems from the fact that trendsetters and socialites come more easily to mind as a standard of comparison and show that reducing the availability of extremely social people eliminates this bias.”
In other words, on social media; we’re typically looking at celebrities and other people who are “Instagram famous” first and foremost, so they can be the first that comes to mind regarding social lives. When that’s the first group of people that comes to mind, you start to think about others that have shared moments that might seem more exciting compared to what you’re sharing on the internet.
Not many people are on their own when they’re posting their social highlights to Instagram, Snapchat or other forms of social media, but instead in a group. Those that are watching these highlights are often alone, which gives them the “fear of missing out.” So while we might feel highly of ourselves in most other walks of life, we might feel that we’re not stacking up compared to others in terms of having a social life.
The researchers suggested that if you feel this way about your social life, that it might be time to unplug from social media. At the very least, it’s suggested that you unfollow the people that might make you envious. Seeing a perceived “enemy” having fun times while you’re sitting at home can be mentally damaging, giving you a skewed perception of your own life.
So before you open up your social media, just know that people are able to paint themselves in the best way possible. It’s difficult to compare one person’s life to another when all you’re watching is the highlight reel. Think of it this way; you could take an entire video of every interception that a hall of fame quarterback has had and put it up against the one touchdown that someone not even close to being good threw at one point.
Since you can see these players at all times, you know that one is better than the other, even if the cherry picked highlight videos might suggest otherwise. Social media works in the same way. So if you find yourself jealous of someone’s social life, just know that there might be someone that’s jealous of yours, too. Try not to think about it, get off of social media and you’ll start feeling much better.