The other day, I was looking at some old posts of mine, and I found a quote from my daughter when she was around 9 years old. She said, “Mom, I feel compared and contrasted.” I’m not sure what she was thinking of at the time, but I agreed.
Don’t we all feel compared and contrasted? In this age of social media, we may have 400 friends on Facebook and 30 of them ever see us in real life. So, basically, on our own “feed” we get to choose what people see of our lives. We get to “feed” them what we like, if you will pardon the pun. It is like Christmas Cards all year long. “This is what is super cool about my life” “This is what fun things I am doing” “This is what I’ve accomplished” “This is the best picture we got after the 300 you didn’t see”.
The problem is, we seldom think about the fact that 90 percent (I made up that statistic, but I’m betting I’m close) of the people on social media are doing the same thing. I try to be positive on my feeds, but in doing so, I do create an off balance look at my life, I’m sure. That, and (full disclosure here) I take about 20 selfies from up turned (the better to hide my double chin with, my dear) angles before posting one. Also making sure the laundry pile is not seen behind me. But do I forget that I am probably not the only person doing so?
Am I saying that I think everyone should air their dirty laundry (literal laundry in my case) on social media? No. Heavens, no. But, I do think we need to remember, that when we are looking at someone’s posts, we are seeing about 10 percent of their carefully worded lives. So…on to the comparing and contrasting.
Don’t. When you see someone’s awesome pictures of their trip to Disneyland/Aruba/ Timbuktu and you are sitting on the couch staring at a pile of laundry from yesterday/last week/August sometime – someone is looking at the pictures of your cute new puppy/car/house. We are all comparing ourselves to other people’s 10 percent.
Then we start the contrasting and that is even more dangerous. The definition of contrast, in this sense is: compare in such a way as to emphasize differences. (I googled it). So, when we think “so-and-so is in Aruba and I am not doing my laundry” how does that make us feel? Not awesome. And when so-and-so is in Aruba and looking at your posts and thinking, “look how happy so-and-so looks – I wish I was that happy all the time” How does it make them feel? Not awesome, either.
There is also a flip side to this coin. You know, the darker one. The one that makes us think that because we can see this ten percent of someone’s life we might just be able to tell that we are a bit better than “so-and-so” that maybe we know what they should do to improve their lives or themselves.
So, if I was given a paper that said: “Compare and Contrast your life to so-and-so’s life. Make sure to use specific examples based on the information given. Include a conclusion on who is doing better at life in general, listing specific goals and success criteria.” I think the best answer I could give would be something like this:
Insufficient information to finish prompt.
Because, really, we never have enough information to do something like that. Even if we see a person every day – in real life – we do not have the information necessary to judge them or to compare our seemingly less productive lives to theirs. Never.
There is only One who knows each of us that well – and thank goodness He will be the one to judge. He knows I haven’t put away the laundry because I’m in pain that doesn’t show in my selfies. He knows me on days when my best is “I got the whole house clean and read my scriptures and helped me kid with her homework” and on days when my best is “I got up this morning and my kid is fed” – He knows when I sit and look at pictures and comments on social media or in the real world and think “I will never be that good/beautiful/smart” – and I think a tear may just roll down His face on those days. Because He sees the whole picture – for us and our 400 Facebook friends and the rest of humanity. And, we, well, don’t.
— If you want to hear the talk that made me start to really think about this – here is the link: Be Ye Therefore Perfect – Eventually