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Social Media: Comparing Our Insides to Other People's Outsides

woman walking outside wearing a yellow jacket looking down at her phone

Comparing ourselves to our friends or to people we see on social media can sometimes make us feel badly. We worry that everyone else is prettier, thinner, or smarter than we are. We believe that they are better athletes, more popular and have happier families than we do. We feel like everyone else is having more fun, has fewer zits and is getting better grades than us. Here’s something really important to remember: We can’t compare our insides to other people’s outsides. 

What people present on Instagram or TikTok is curated, meaning it was created using special light, filters and photoshop. It was taken at the most flattering angle and was chosen from possibly a dozen different photo or video options. Those photos don’t tell us anything about how that person was feeling or what that person was thinking when the photo was taken. And therefore, we can’t compare ourselves to that person because what they look like on the outside tells us nothing about what they feel like on the inside. 

We are inside our own bodies and are aware of all of our feelings (hard and happy), our thoughts (positive and negative), our hopes (for ourselves and for others), our dreams (realistic or wild), our worries (big and small), and our embarrassments (enormous and tiny). We can’t see all of those things that other people feel while looking at their photos, nor can we even see them when we pass someone in the hall at school or run into them at the mall. 

Here are some tips for avoiding the temptation to compare our insides to other peoples’ outsides:

  • Remember that photos on social media and on the internet have often been manipulated, edited and photoshopped.

  • Unfollow or mute accounts of friends or influencers who make us feel badly.

  • Remember that comments on social media posts are not the only way to get positivity and encouragement from other people.

  • Find upbeat and empowering accounts to follow, influencers and organizations that make you feel good when you see their posts.

  • Talk to friends or trusted adults if you’re feeling down and worrying that everyone else is happier than you are.

Image by Cottonbro

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