Social Media: Compare vs. Connect
Do you use social media to compare or connect? If you asked me this question several months ago, I would have said I use social media to connect with my friends who live all over the country. I would have been a liar.
Well, a partial liar. Did I sometimes post for likes rather than a connection? Yes. Did I scroll my feeds and fill with jealousy over other user’s seemingly perfect lives and bodies? You know it! Did this make me feel down about myself and fuel my eating disorder and anxieties? Of course!
I loved the ability to stay up to date on my friend’s lives but I also allowed the toxic aspects of social media to infiltrate my mind. Several months into recovery I decided to delete my social accounts to focus on myself. It was a phenomenal learning experience and actually deepened some relationships because we were “forced” to stay in touch. Our conversation became richer; our connection grew deeper.
Further, I didn’t have the constant feeling of disappointment or fear of missing out. With no profiles or like counts to compare me to, I began to recognize my strengths and appreciate the life I have.
I ended my hiatus with the decision to launch Orthorexia Bites. I returned with the mission to only focus on the good aspects of social media but soon fell back into my comparison ways. I’d see other eating disorder, nutrition, and mental health accounts receive much more attention than mine. Then, there were the influencers who once fueled my eating disorder and body image issues attracting hundreds, if not thousands, of likes. I’d view these posts and feel down about my own.
Then, the magic of our virtual world appeared. I started making heartfelt connections with other individuals who were facing their own battles. I realized we were building a community together. I’m a huge proponent of trainer Joe Holder’s OCHO concept: one can help others; others can help one. Our stories are all different, but something larger connects us. Rather than try to compete or compare with other bloggers and advocates, I saw the need to build this community not just for myself but for those I was trying to reach.
Through an Instagram connection, I joined a men’s studio and now feel a part of a brotherhood, a community that I didn’t even know could exist. We do not compare or judge even in our most vulnerable moments; instead, we embrace each other as we are. This type of engagement is critical as I proceed through recovery and learn to rip off the mask I hid behind for so long.
Social media is a great resource when we use it to make genuine connections. We can build a community rather than search for attention or compare ourselves to others. The best connections I’ve made on social media are the ones where we engage in authentic and open conversation.
I found myself thinking the other day about how beautiful this world would be if we all embraced vulnerability and allowed ourselves to express how we truly feel. Just imagine the difference it would make on these social networks. We’d no longer have to script the perfect life or manage what others see. We’d be free to be ourselves. Free to live our lives the way we want to. Nobody would have to struggle alone. There would be no need to compete because we would be one. One community united by authenticity, compassion, and empathy.