One of the big issues with the digital/social media era we find ourselves in is the natural need to compare ourselves with what we see on our smartphones. And, if you’re like me and don’t pay too much attention to the highlights reel people choose to show us on Instagram, well, then, they try to ram it down our throats.

I’m sure we all know people that boast about how much money they earn, how much they spent on a night out as well as those who plaster their materialistic wealth on social media. In the past, it has been very hard to avoid comparing my own life to that. I’ll be the first to admit it. I think I was blind to it for a little while because it felt so natural with the transition into the social media era.

However, as Theodore Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy”. By that, he means when we compare ourselves to others (Either what they have or how they are) we devalue ourselves, which often leads to bouts of low self-esteem.

And, for those of you who don’t know, low self-esteem and shattered confidence are the foundation on which my depression was built. So I know how much damage they can do.

Enough is enough

In all honesty, if someone is so insistent on showing off their wealth in front of me I already have one quote that sums up how I avoid making comparisons.

Say for arguments sake someone is boasting about their Christmas bonus… Well, from their need to boast about it I already know I have what they’ll never have – enough. That’s not a Jordan Camp original quote by the way. It’s from Joseph Heller, the author of Catch 22, and it found its way to my ears via a podcast.

It was one of those quotes where as soon as I heard it so much about modern society made sense to me. There’s a highly praised book on the subject that I want to read called ‘Selfie: How the west became self-obsessed’.

It’s important to know what ‘enough’ is for each of us and understand that it’s different for everyone. Some people are purely motivated by money, all they care about is having more than everyone else. In the next however many years there will be a trillionaire. Why? Because a billion isn’t enough.

Others aren’t so money motivated, which is where I fit in. There’s a famous quote regarding money, materialism and consumerism which is ‘We buy sh!t we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.’

For a number of years, I had a car on finance. I gave up my most recent one when I bought my flat for a number of reasons including affordability. It was a lovely car, a Mercedes A-Class A180 which cost me £252 a month.

I can’t believe I paid that for three years. That’s more than one month’s worth of therapy. And I know which would benefit me more in the long run. I can say with certainty that I’ll never have a car on finance again.

As long as I can afford to pay my bills, have nice holidays, days out with my partner and friends as well as a healthy lifestyle, that’s enough for me.

As long as I can get some nice holidays in I have enough

Avoiding comparisons on social media

I may know what’s enough for me and no longer get affected by the boasters of social media. But that’s not going to stop them from posting these things that would traditionally have one make comparisons.

However, I recently found a handy tool on Instagram if you find yourself making comparisons online.

If you go on the profile of someone whose posts can be a bit much, click on the drop-down menu where it says ‘following’. Then click on mute. From here you can choose to mute their posts, stories or both for as long as you want. See the picture below of how I’d do it for my marathon training page from my personal one.

Following drop-down menu, mute, posts and stories – voila

It’s very good if you’re in a difficult situation where you’re making comparisons online, or someone’s content, whom it would be awkward to unfollow, is annoying you, like a relative boasting about their house extension or someone who is anti-vax. Facebook and Twitter also have similar tools if unfriending/unfollowing is on the awkward side of things.

Drawing inspiration from others on social media

Although it’s mentally damaging to make comparisons over social media, I don’t think there is any harm in drawing inspiration from it.

We’re all surrounded by people, so naturally, we draw inspiration from them. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to run the London Marathon. I used to watch the highlights every year on TV and thought it would be a cool thing to do one day. In short, I was inspired by the people who’ve run it in the past.

The same goes for my travels. I was inspired to visit a lot of places after seeing them on TV or in films. I wanted to visit New Zealand after watching Lord of the Rings, for example.

Hobbiton 2015

There are very few original ideas these days. Why does everyone want to go to Glastonbury? Because it looks awesome on tv. It’s the reason everyone has idols. Ask any successful Olympian who inspired them and I guarantee it was someone who competed in the same sport on that very stage before them.

I’m currently training for an Ironman. Where did that inspiration come from? Social media, people at Park Run with an Ironman tattoo and Gordon Ramsay. In short – people.

Ironman training

I’m inspired by these people, but they don’t boast about what they have. I think that’s why if I’m honest. Gordon Ramsay is famous because he’s a successful chef, he’s not a celebrity by the modern definition of the word. I’m not typically interested in anything materialistic I see on social media. Cars, watches and houses etc. They all mean nothing to me.

I love seeing what people have achieved and the interesting things they’ve done with their lives. And as long as I see my friends and family happy with those aspects of their lives, then I’m happy, even if it is completely different to how I would perceive having enough.

Like what you see? Please take a look at some of my other posts below.
After life: thank you Ricky Gervais
My mental health in 2021

Social Media: Comparison is the thief of joy

Jordan Camp

I’ve been sharing my writing with the world since 2015. Back then it was about travel, then I transitioned into wellbeing and mental health awareness. Soon after I was being paid for it as I wrote about sports, politics and, of course, the pandemic. My words have been published in the i, Mancunian Matters and a number of the South West London associated publications. In 2021 I ran my first marathon, for the UK mental health charity, Mind. I currently live in Essex where I am training to become an Ironman.

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