“Comparison is the thief of joy” – we all know it, but how many of us can actually take it on board?
The festive period is jam-packed with events, which means that social media is flooded with pictures & videos of said events. This can produce some serious FOMO (that’s the ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ for those of you who aren’t up on the lingo). This trend is so common in today’s digital age, where the power & pervasiveness of technology can be so all encompassing. In this era, we are constantly bombarded by images which make us feel as if people are living lives that are vastly more exciting or glamorous than our own. This is particularly true of the festive period! As we scroll down our insta feeds, while we are sat on the sofa in our dressing gowns shovelling down a chocolate orange in practically one bite, we are being served the notion of a ‘perfect Christmas’ over and over again. It’s hard not to be affected by that, although, if you ask me, add some cheese into the mix and you’ve pretty much got yourself a perfect Christmas there anyway.
According to The Huffington Post, over the festive period, 15% of Brits have accepted social invites purely so they can be seen to be there and almost one in ten (8%) have attended an event just so they can tag themselves into that location on social media. I mean, to me that sounds ridiculous, but then again, I also have an insatiable appetite for insta-storying everything (especially my dog), so maybe there is some truth in it. The bottom line is that social media hugely intensifies the feelings of FOMO – think about it, before social media, we didn’t know what anyone had been up to until we next saw them and caught up. Sure you might have felt a pang of jealousy as they regaled you with tales of their holidays abroad etc, but it was nothing compared to the constant feeling that we have grown accustomed to today. When you scroll through your feed, everyone else looks like they are having such a great time, sailing through one great festive party to the next. This can increase feelings of sadness and stress and can actually make you feel quite isolated.
I’m writing this on New Year’s Eve (yep, I know how to partaaaay), and I’m already dreading all the uploads that will grace my timeline later tonight, even though I know I’ll probably be just as guilty of it. This time of year can be really tough and that is only made worse by the underlying assumption that you should be having a great time, because it’s Christmas. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot towards the end of this year, so, as always, I wanted to share my rambling train of thought with you all & tell you how I’ve been trying to get through it.
Limit your time on social media.
For someone like me from the internet age, who truly has lived and breathed social media from Myspace all the way through to Instagram – this one is tricky. So if you don’t feel like you can face going cold turkey (I know, we’re all stuffed to the brim with it after Christmas), just try and be conscious about the amount of time you’re spending scrolling. Make sure you’re living in the moment and actually taking the time to enjoy what you’re doing with your festive break, rather than wasting time feeling jealousy towards that girl you used to know at school who’s off travelling, cos I can bet you she is actually probably feeling exactly the same and is scrolling through her feed craving some snow & a brussel sprout (said nobody ever).
Remember that context is key.
Social media is a perfectly crafted version of reality and as much as I love it, it’s been important for me to remember that and recognise that it is not necessarily an accurate representation of life. How many singed turkeys did you see on your Instagram feed? How many family arguments post Monopoly were broadcast on Facebook live? (Probs not very many, does anyone actually use it?). My point is that it’s like when Dermot shows the X Factor contestants their ‘best bits’ when they’re booted off the show – social media is just a never ending catalogue of those best bits.
Connect with people IRL.
It can be very easy to get lost in your own head and feel very isolated throughout periods like this, but it can also be a great motivator for seeing old friends and re-connecting with people in real life. A few days ago I met up with some of my oldest friends and it was great. Tonight, after umming and ahhing over various convoluted plans with friends, I’ll be spending New Year’s Eve with my parents, my dog & some family friends who I’ve known and loved since I was born. It may not be the most glamorous way to ring in the New Year, but it’s going to be lovely all the same.
So if, like me, you’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed throughout this festive period, just remember that the grass is only ever greener where you water it. Take the time to focus on the steps above and gain some all important perspective so that you can stop comparing your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. Whatever you’re up to tonight, I hope you have a lovely time ringing in the New Year, but just remember – it’s really just another day!