Technology/ Wellness

OCD: How Social Media Can Bring Us Down

social media mental health

I do it. 

You do it.

We all do it.

Obsessive Comparison Disorder, a non-scientific term coined by millennial author Paul Angone back in 2012, describes our compulsion to constantly compare ourselves with others, producing unwanted thoughts and feelings that drive us to depression, consumption, anxiety, and all-around joyous discontent.

Comparing oneself to others isn’t anything new, but it’s a helluva a lot easier to do now (thanks to social media) than ever before.

You know the drill:

Rolling along, having a pretty good day, when – BAM! – your old college pal’s recent home upgrade or trip to Jamaica or baby announcement shows up in your Facebook feed.

Darn it. 

You know you should be happy for them – and maybe you are – but you also feel pretty shitty because your life doesn’t feel as “awesome” as theirs (looks) right now.

Are you slacking?

Are you a loser?

Are you being left behind?

Previous generations didn’t spend their 20’s and 30’s reviewing daily self-promo broadcasts from their old chums and competitive peers. The occasional class reunion or holiday newsletters (anyone else miss these?) were the only BAM! Slamthey encountered.

Thanks to the Connected Age, however, we are consistently bombarded with opportunities to fall into the quagmire of Obsessive Comparison Disorder.

As a marketing and public relations consultant, I get paid to help not-so-interesting brands look way cooler online. It’s not that hard to do – making something super boring look totally badass. A little niche branding, courageous copy, enhanced aesthetics, target placement, and booyah – they’ve got a swanky new look. This is how I’ve landed broke start-up founders national media, unknown authors keynote speaking ops, and garage band style companies mega followings.

Takeaway: what you see online isn’t necessary what you would see in person.

It’s a view, but often just the amped-up, best view.

Like a public relations professional, today’s social users carefully curate what they share. They filter (sometimes, quite literally) snapshots from daily life, only sharing the very best ones. No embarrassing zits, no nervous breakdowns, no weight gain announcements, no play-by-play spats with their significant other.

Just the good stuff – the stuff that will make them look their absolute best. The stuff that consistently communicates the desired message:  “I’m awesome, my life’s awesome, and it’s all more awesomer than yours.”

I’m not slamming peeps for posting good stuff (heaven knows I do it too), but I am attempting to emphasize that what we see scrolling through our feed isn’t worth all the bad feelings Obsessive Comparison Disorder conjures up.

I don’t share about the not-so-awesome things in my life, such as:

Chances are you – and your OCD-inducing peers – have a list of not-so-awesome things you don’t post about either.

Looks – and social media posts – can be deceiving.

So next time your scrolling through social feeds thinking, “Man, my life sucks,” or “I’m really slacking”, hit “pause” on the negative self-talk, realize what’s going on, and stop Obsessive Comparison Disorder in its tracks.

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