Do my friends Facebook pictures and posts affect my self-esteem? Am I really affected by what my friends are doing that I am missing out on? Should my mood really be affected by a single Facebook photo? After reading the article, Facebook Envy: How Cruising Can Kill Self-Esteem by Wendy Sachs, it really got me thinking.
As I thought more and more about this article I began to use my current experiences to answer these questions. Currently I am studying abroad in the Czech Republic. A place with cold weather and not much sun. When deciding on where to study abroad I was thinking about Prague or South Africa. Two very different places. If I went to Prague I could travel, learn a new language, and be able to visit all of my other friends who were studying in Europe. But if I went to South Africa I could be constantly surrounded by beautiful beaches, warm weather, and the sun! After deciding on Prague and arriving in late January I was very happy about my decision to study in Prague. But once my friends who chose South Africa arrived in the beginning of February, they began posting pictures on Facebook as well as Instagram, two social media networks that I am very active on. I would see their pictures on a sunny beach and posing with elephants in the bright sun and I could feel myself immediately get jealous. I began to second guess my choice of studying in Prague and almost regret it.
A few days after their arrival and photo posts I traveled to Rome where I saw about 30 other friends studying in Europe. This reminded me why I chose to go to Prague and I knew that I made the right decision. When I arrived home from Rome and walked around Prague I finally really appreciated the beauty of Prague and couldn’t imagine studying anywhere else.
In Sach’s article she writes, “It’s human nature to compare ourselves with others.” I do not think I am silly for comparing my life to my friends lives in South Africa because, I agree, it is just human nature. The fact that I am constantly on Facebook looking at their beautiful pictures as well as posting my own, I immediately compare my pictures to theirs. I think that in my situation the comparison did affect my mood, but it did not cause me any form of depression. I do believe that for people it can cause depression and be truly detrimental to their lives. Constantly comparing your life to someone else’s is no way to live and the way social media networks are designed today I do not believe we will ever stop comparing. The more time one spends on Facebook the more they compare their lives to others. If a person constantly believes that others are having more fun than they are, this can significantly affect their mood and self-esteem.
Featured Image courtesy of Flickr user Frontierofficial