Social comparison, primarily in social media, is an issue that youth have to tackle everyday. Not only have I heard about this topic, I have experienced it. Social media often portrays unrealistic beauty and lifestyle standards that kids and teens think they are expected to live up to. Along with social media there are major comparisons in school, sports, economic status, and more. I believe that there are things we can do to lessen this comparison and therefore relieve stress and anxiety.
Social media is arguably one of the biggest influences in a teenager and young adult's life. Although there are other aspects of comparison in today's fast paced society, I believe that social media has the greatest effect on youth. Everyday there is a new “trend” or style that gets millions of views in a matter of seconds. Fun TikTok dances or new makeup styles are great examples. It can be damaging to a developing mind to constantly be compared to people who have millions of followers or what society says is the “perfect body type”. I am not trying to take away from the positive opportunities on these platforms however, I think that there are ways we can improve these platforms to be more positive and welcoming rather than judgmental and comparable. Whether it is the clothes you wear, the sports you play, or the vacations you go on, people will see those posts and compare you to someone or something without even intending to. Seeing posts about a party you weren’t invited to could have negative effects on your mental health. I think that we have grown up to compare people based on what we see and hear about them rather than making our own opinions about them. Studies have shown that about 25% of teens have said that the effects of social media are mostly negative. This needs to change.
To lessen the stress and anxiety that are caused by comparison we need to change how we think. We are raised to be competitive in today's society and that is okay. Posting to put others down, however, is far from okay. On social media if you see something, say something! These platforms are also a great place to boost each other's confidence and encourage positivity. Together we can create a society to decrease the social comparison in youth today.
Anderson M, Jiang J. Teens, social media & technology 2018. Pew Research Center. 2018; 31:2018.
Mir, Elina, et al. “Social Media and Adolescents' and Young Adults' Mental Health.” National Center for Health Research, 16 July 2020, www.center4research.org/social-media-affects-mental-health/.