Social Media is Creating Peer Pressure like we’ve never seen before.
I remember when Facebook was new; people talked with old friends, shared family photos, and not much more. Over the years things started to change and at some point profile pictures became glamour shots, vacation pictures became humble-brags, and all our latest purchases became public service announcements. We created our own caricatures; displaying only the traits we wanted others to see, and conveniently leaving everything else out.
While much about social media has become fake, the people are still very real, and that’s kind of a problem. Real people are watching other real people with their new cars, new homes, new clothes, and new phones… mostly paid for with fake money. They aren’t seeing the car ‘payments’, the home ‘mortgages’, or the ‘credit card’ bills.
I know the numbers, and am quite confident in the fact that nearly all of your friends who you think have money on Facebook and Instagram, don’t. Most of them have way less than they should for retirement, and nearly all of them are buried in debt. And if that weren’t bad enough, an overwhelming majority of them would be completely out of money within a couple months of losing their job. It’s the great illusion, and unfortunately it’s become more contagious than ever.
When we perceive everyone around us as more successful, we start to think we are inferior because we don’t have all those things too, so we start compensating with foolish habits. We spend more than we should on a car too, we justify using credit cards, and so on. Next thing you know we look like we’re successful, and the next poor sap feels like they need to keep up with us.
People aren’t seeing you the way you think they are anyway.
Here’s what I find so baffling about the whole thing. When we create this artificial version of our perfect self online, almost nobody is thinking what you think they are about you anyway. To be perfectly honest… nobody really gives a shit what car you drive or what purse you have.
Example 1: You’re a woman and you see another woman with a beautiful Versace handbag. Do you think to yourself,
A. “Wow, she looks so amazing with that purse.”
or do you think…..
B. “Wow, I would look so amazing with that purse.”
Example 2: You’re a man and you see another man driving a brand new Corvette. Do you think to yourself,
A. “Wow, that guy looks like a boss in that Vette”
or do you think…
B. “Wow, I would look like a boss in that Vette.”
I would wager money that almost everyone thinks “B”. People aren’t thinking about how good you look, they are thinking about how good they would look. They aren’t impressed by your purchase, and they don’t think it makes you look amazing, they just think it would make them look amazing. Now you may very well make some people jealous, but the only reason they are jealous is because they think people are thinking you are amazing (which they aren’t) and they want to be amazing too.
Facebook is mostly fake, and as long as you know that you’ll be fine.
Here’s the Breakdown: nothing on Facebook or Instagram (or whatever) is what it seems. People literally take dozens of pictures until they nail the perfect angle in the perfect light, and then filter that just in case. Hardly any of the people you think have money actually do; they likely have more debt than money and couldn’t go more than a couple months without working and still pay their bills.
All the perfect relationships you see are fake; they have fights with their partners too! Their kids aren’t any more special than yours; it’s just that they only post the awesome things their kids do (guilty). They probably aren’t any happier than you are either. Just because they’re smiling in every single picture you see doesn’t mean they’re smiling every single second of real life.
The point is… your life is great the way it is.
Many people don’t realize just how unreal their perception of their online friends are. We don’t need to define our life goals based on somebody else’s fake life. Just keep on doing what you do, following your own passions and doing what you think is best for you.
Remember… if the grass is greener on the other side; it might just be AstroTurf.
C.J. is the blogger behind the Vow of Practicality. “Let’s grow your wealth, increase your productivity, and maximize your happiness.”