We used to talk about people who were obsessed with “keeping up with the Joneses”, making sure you had the latest and greatest of everything that your neighbours had. It was a bit of a jibe at people who weren’t content with what they had. Now it’s FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and Comparisonitis. The difference being that FOMO is trying to be a part of everything, not missing a thing whether you want to do it or not, being tuned in to everything that is happening; the latter is comparing your life to someone else’s and “discovering” that theirs is better, that you can’t possibly compete.
A comparisonitis conversation might go something like: “You remember Matthew, he dropped out of high school in year 10? I went to his facebook page and there were photos of him and his family in Moscow. I’ve never been to Moscow! How can a dropout afford that, when I’ve always worked, I’m in a good job! And Susan, did you see that she’s got this enormous house in the better side of town? I can’t believe that, I still live in a tiny 3-bedroom in the suburbs!” That’s Comparisonitis. But you know what? Susan and Matthew are looking at your life and going through the same fears: they’re looking at how close your family is, that your daughter took you to see Ed Sheeran last week, but their daughter doesn’t even come home most weekends. They’re wondering why they can’t be content to stay at home with dogs and chickens; or why they’re not as talented as you at piano.
Social media and TV are a barrage of how we "should" be living our lives, what "everyone else" is doing and you are not. Comparisonitis beats a drum in your head - "why not me, why not me?" Facebook tells me that everyone has a best friend, all the articles and surveys say so - "Why your best friend is more important than your boyfriend. What does your best friend really think? Holiday destinations for best friends." And then your actual friends show their friend holiday snaps - the girls’ cruise some friends are taking, the trip to Queensland with schoolmates. And your head is asking “Why don’t I have that?”
I could go on, there are so many examples of how I’ve been caught up in comparing myself to others, let alone the people who compare themselves to others and tell me about it, worried that they’re somehow failing at life.
When I start feeling like I’ve failed because I’m comparing myself to facebook, it’s time to step back and see what I have, to ask these questions:
Am I happy?
Am I doing what I love?
When I’m not looking at someone else’s life, do I feel there is something missing?
The answers should be yes, yes, no – if they’re not, then you need to look at what “you” are missing, not what you think you "should" be doing.
You see, not everyone has a best friend, not everyone wants to go to Moscow, or have 5 dogs, or play the piano – and not everyone needs any of those. If I judged my life by your life, by tv shows, but what I see on Facebook, then I’ve failed. But if you judge your life based on mine, you’ve failed too. Stop comparing, stop thinking you're less than because your life is different to mine, and I will too.
Ditch the comparisonitis.