beauty, hair

Comparison in the digital world

Image of laptop depicting digital world

This is a topic that has been floating around the blogosphere and social media a lot recently. In a way, I didn’t want to give it the air time but you know what they say, it’s good to talk. So let’s grab a cuppa and have a chat. I think there is, and always will be, an element of comparison in life such as comparing our lives to those of our parents, our friends, our siblings and other people we look up to. A little bit of comparison can be healthy, like looking at how times have changed since our parents were our age, seeing how well our friends are doing and congratulating them for their achievements.

So when does it become unhealthy? I suppose when we start applying everything to our lives and seeing the negatives. I’ve always been pretty happy and grateful – from doing well at school and University, to going on holiday, my career opportunities and blogging. However recently, I started to compare everything. And I started to feel like I was being compared to others by others, like I was being held up against others. And that is not a nice feeling.

I’m fairly competitive and always have been. Being held up against someone else, being compared to someone else, would only spur me on to either distance myself and be as different as possible (how will you compare me then?) or work my arse off to better, to be the best. I guess I am still very much in that mindset, especially with work, which makes me work harder, focus more and learn quicker. However, comparison is not healthy guys and girls. Especially when it comes to your personal life. And social media/blogging seems to be fueling the idea of a perfect life. A perfect home, face, clothes, body. A life full of perfect holidays in perfect destinations with perfect people. Perfect, unreal, unattainable lives. 

There’s a huge part of me that feels for the teens of today (blimey, I sound like a right old lady at the grand age of 26!) But seriously, being a teenager was hard enough with just MySpace and MSN (please tell me you know what those are otherwise I will genuinely feel ancient) but throw in Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube and you have constant, 24/7 stream of perfectly curated lives. Perfectly curated people. A lot of bloggers have spoken out about this unrealistic view and how expectations are unreasonably high on social media.

Don’t get me wrong, I love scrolling through travel accounts/bloggers on Instagram, drooling over their sunset photos, hearing about places I never even knew existed. I love following fellow fashion and lifestyle bloggers who showcase an outfit that you would never think of putting together and they absolutely own it. But all of this perfection, all of these filters, can give an unrealistic expectation of life and what it should be like. There’s no ‘behind-the-scenes’. And I can definitely be guilty of this, after all, who wants to hear you’ve had a snotty cold for two weeks or you’ve woken up with the biggest pillow crease on your face (and it’s still there two hours later…)

I fell out of love with my blog for a little while. My blog has always been my calm place. My happy place. But lately I feel like I’m being compared to others and I feel like I’m coming up short every time. I’ve always loved creating content, honing my photography and spending time writing. I was always a bookworm growing up, always reading and writing. I loved my English Lit classes at school and have a notepad bursting with ideas. Writing was my thing. And photography became a love of mine at University. I know these aren’t exclusive to me, hell I’m probably one of millions who write, blog and take photos – and that’s a wonderful feeling. To know there are people just like you out there….the blogosphere really can be a fabulous little community sometimes.

But having something that felt like mine, that was mine, being compared against others with the measure of success being how many freebies you receive and being judged by your follower count regardless of the volume and quality of actual content/readers/views/engagement you have. That’s hard. As someone who works in digital marketing, there are so many more ways to measure success these days rather than purely follower counts, and every person and every blog is different. Isn’t that the beauty of it? This used to be my happy place, but it turned into something that I couldn’t even look at or bring myself to post on because what was the point? That sort of negativity is not healthy and you know what, the saying is completely true. Negativity breeds negativity.

So here’s hoping, if you’ve stuck with me this far, that I haven’t depressed the hell out of you! I’ve started to think of comparison as like a friend with a bad cold; keep them at arms length and you’ll be just fine. Be inspired by others, celebrate their achievements (because remember what it feels like for you to reach a milestone whether it’s in your career, blog or personal life), surround yourself with supportive positive people, support others (because isn’t it amazing to see the people you love excel?) and most importantly keep a realistic outlook on life. Repeat after me: I AM NOT BEYONCE. I’m kidding, and I’m sure even Beyoncé has bad days…(?!) At the end of the day, you have no idea what is really going on behind the lens and sometimes we need to take a bit of time out to be grateful for what we have, not spending time comparing ourselves to others. And to finish off with a blooming great quote, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.” Cheers Dr. Seuss, you wise owl. 

Katie x

P.S. Here are some great reads along the lines of this topic if you fancy delving deeper. I love Josie’s post about the rise of the micro-influencer and how being a smaller blogger/having a smaller follower count doesn’t mean you’re less important or not good enough for the blogging world. I also stumbled across Abigail’s inspiring post about comparing yourself to others and how to stop – definitely a must read!