Culture > The pursuit of happiness beyond social media

Posted on January 30, 2017
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Maha Al Amead discusses why an internet addiction will only lead to misery

How many times have you looked at Instagram and felt sad when you saw someone posting a picture of the car/bag/game/phone you wanted? Making you sink into a sea of self-loathing and pity. Or how many times did you hate yourself after hearing someone’s success story because that someone wasn’t you?

We live in a time where we compare ourselves to others on a regular basis, not because we necessarily want to, but because we can’t escape it.

I am a competitive spirit by nature; ‘good competition’ can do wonders for me, because it can give me an enormous amount of motivation. It also helps me to stay alert, focused, and prevents me from cutting corners. As clichéd as this is, my source of good competition comes mainly from my family, because I know their moral code.

Then there’s what I consider ‘bad competition’ (any competition that doesn’t follow a moral code). This can have a terrible effect on me. Bad competition can harm me mentally. It also forces me to cut corners in an attempt to “catch up”, and it usually distracts me from my main goal.

The Internet can be your number one source for ‘bad competition’. You keep comparing yourself to those fitness bloggers or models in bikini body workout video ads, Instagram models and successful entrepreneurs; ignoring the fact that they show you only what they want you to see.

We live in a time where we compare ourselves to others on a regular basis, not because we necessarily want to, but because we can’t escape it

I can say this with certainty, because I do what those fitness bloggers do. I workout five times a week (usually one to two hours) and I can tell you that some of things you see online are anything but realistic.

Then when you consider fashion bloggers. Most of the “fabulous” clothes you see them wearing are nothing but a source of income. They didn’t choose items, they were picked out for them by companies that want to promote their products.

In 2015 Australian Instagram model Essena O’Neill publicly quit Instagram. She said that her exit from chasing likes and shares made her feel “free”. O’Neilll had an honest conversation with her followers about what happens behind the scenes. She edited the captions of her Instagram photos to reveal the back-story of each one. She wanted to prove that “social media is not real life”.

One particular beach photo she captioned along the lines of, “I didn’t eat all the day and kept yelling at my sister so she can snap a picture of me that shows my ‘flat’ stomach.”

Surprisingly, O’Neill received a lot of backlash regarding her decision to pull back the curtain on the realities of Instagram life. “I was lost, with serious problems so beautifully hidden.”

Sadly, celebrities aren’t the only source of bad competition. A lot of us have that account we are guilty of following. The account that is owned by someone who was born into a wealthy family. As a result, they have plenty of connections, which led them to skipping a couple of steps on their way to success.

The first step on your way to living a more fulfilling life is: limiting the amount of time you spend on social media

We compare ourselves to them because we can’t help it. They are usually around our age, and they love to remind us of that fact. But as Bill Gates said, “Life is not fair, get used to it.” Focusing our frustration on what we don’t have will get us nowhere.

We should remember that if we work hard, we can attempt to reach the same heights, and we will be more careful with success, because we know how hard it is to obtain it.

I believe that the first step on your way to living a more fulfilling life is: limiting the amount of time you spend on social media.

A study in 2016, conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, found some shocking results when they explored the link between depression and the use of social media.

The team polled 1,787 adults in the USA between the ages of 19 and 32. The study concluded that participants who use social media frequently are 2.7 times more likely to suffer from depression.

Lead author, Luiyi Lin says it is also possible that those who are depressed use social media as a way of filling a void. The study also goes on to say that exposure to “highly idealised representations of peers on social media elicits feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier, more successful lives.”

The second step is finding good competition. Good competition is someone who has the same circumstances you do, has the same moral code you follow and is doing their best to defy the odds to reach their goal. Consider your social circle and the people who you look to for motivation.

The Internet is like anything else. It has its flaws, but it also has its benefits, because of it the world’s knowledge is only a click away. However, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of us misusing it like we sometimes do.

Maha Al Amead
Maha likes to put her feelings down on paper. She hopes to be a law student, just to see beyond the world of right and wrong.

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