Chris Hannah

Keeping Up with the Joneses on Social Media

Jas Hothi, wrote a rather interesting piece on why he’s quitting social media, and I tend to agree with some of the points he made. Especially this observation:

As Richard Layard explains in his book, just a couple of decades ago pre-digital age, the comparisons we made were with those who lived on our street, or were otherwise in our social circles – i.e. colleagues, extended family, and so forth.These days, our ‘circles’ have been expanded – thanks to the internet – to thousands of others all over the world. So the Keeping up with the Joneses effect is increased, we compare ourselves more, and we feel unhappier.

The massive scope and scale of social media is where I feel most problems stem from. That can certainly be a benefit in some use cases, but as for the “social” part of a social network, I don’t think it helps.

For whatever reason, we tend to compare ourselves to others. However, comparing yourself to people in the real world is one thing. Comparing yourself to the endless amounts of people on the internet is another, especially given how manipulated and glamorised they tend to be.

One thing’s for sure, I’m very glad my childhood was largely free from social media.

I definitely used sites like Bebo and MySpace when they were around. But I was a teenager by then, and they seemed more like fun ways to talk to your friends than a way to keep yourself “plugged in”.