• Regina Rhodes

Social Media's Downward Spiral: Is Comparison Ruling Your Life?

When you get a social media notification, your brain sends a chemical messenger called dopamine along a reward pathway, making you feel good. Dopamine is associated with food, exercise, love, sex, gambling, drugs …and presently, social media.

Today's world is filled with opportunities to scale your worth against those around you. Everyone is promoting their success on social media, and it can lead you to question whether you're desirable enough.

Perhaps you've found yourself thinking things like:

  • Am I as relevant as my competitor's they have much better resources than I.

  • That content creator has way more followers and videos than I do, am I doing something wrong?

  • I should post professional and edited pictures and videos in order to keep up with my social media friends.

Social media has experienced an exponential rise in popularity over the last decade, but its mental health effects are still under examination. Evidence supports that social media helps people stay more connected, and social connection is a powerful defense against stress and a benefit to one’s mental health. However, there is also evidence to suggest that social media can do its percentage of harm.

"UPWARD" Comparisons Are More Harmful Than Helpful

When we develop “upward” comparisons, we measure ourselves against people to whom we feel inferior. As social media such as Facebook and Instagram have transformed to display a “highlight reel” nature, it is almost impossible to bypass upward comparisons. These upward measurements can cause a person to experience disappointment, desperation, and even depression.

When all a person sees from his/her friends are their weddings, travel adventures, career promotions, and their ability to deal with adversity without missing a beat, he/she may question where they steered differently in life.

All of these unfiltered comparisons lead to nothing but resentment, and you are left feeling more inadequate about yourself. The only judgments that are considered healthy are those that inspire you to make a shift in your life for the greater.

Other than that, most comparisons are degrading to our positive mental health.

When people start to compare themselves to what they see on social media, they can find themselves trying to meet unrealistic expectations, leading to increased self-doubt, body image insecurity, feelings of anxiety, and lowered self-esteem.

How to Reduce Social Media Comparisons

  1. Know and avoid your triggers. We innocently click on our social medias for entertainment, updates etc, but deep down, we know when and where things start to take a turn for the worst. When you began to notice that you are feeling sad or upset while partaking in the apps; acknowledge this and pick up another activity. 

  2. Reduce your time on social media. Using certain features such as "Time Limit" to consistently remind you that you have been active too long or even deleting the apps during specific time frames. 

  3. Try to figure out why you're making comparisons. Where do these inadequacies stem from, or where they developed from a particular situation?

  4. Focus on quiet instead of noise and practice "mindfulness" in your scrolling by silencing constant content opinions. 


You were designed to generate your own style, cultivate your own talents, and perform your own successes in life. You are intended to fulfill your own destiny. 

  • In other words, your negative, disparaging thoughts manifest your own bitter reality.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to curb the comparisons. Then, your self-worth won't be dependent on how those around you are doing.

  • Recognize that other people have different skills than you or that they have knowledge that could benefit you. 

Then, you'll be intent on learning from them, not pitting yourself against them. The excellent news is, you can learn something from everyone you engage in.


  • What message does that person have that could be receivable and helpful to me?

  • What can I gain from this individual's uniqueness?

  • What knowledge, ideas, or areas of expertise does this individual have that could be valuable to me?

Rather than judge people, stay curious. Look for chances to learn, and you'll start to see that other people aren't necessarily better or worse than you--they're just different.

Remember That Life Is a Journey and What You Have Is Enough 

Life is not a competition where you compete with others to see who attains the "dream life" first; instead, life is a long individualized journey. Everyone is on a different voyage, and your personal journey has nothing to do with others but instead has everything to do with you and what you desire.

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