One glimpse at the Instagram model’s perfect smile brings a spike of negative emotion. Why can’t your smile look that good, your clothes look that nice, or your friends look that happy?
Social media insecurity is a well-documented phenomenon. The human brain is programmed to always try to understand your place in the social hierarchy. It’s both a tool for motivation and a tool for survival. You need to know what is possible so you can strive to achieve it, and you need to know who’s better than you so that you can either follow or avoid them.
Social media, however, makes that totally sensible system spin out of control.
A window into every life
Throughout most of our existence on Earth, humans existed in tribes of hunter-gatherers. Human tribes were groups of 50 to 300 people. Not coincidentally, the latter is also our upper limit for keeping track of names and relationships; scientists estimate that we can keep track of three hundred people in our lives, and we can comfortably maintain about 150 stable relationships. More than that and we start to get confused.
Our value assessment systems mentioned above were developed to deal with this state of affairs: to tribes of three hundred people at most. Back then, having status meant having a slightly nicer piece of animal skin, or being able to throw a spear further than the others. There wasn’t such massive income inequality in the world or such a massive number of people competing for attention.
It used to be that the best smile you could see was the prettiest smile out of three hundred people. Now, if you follow an influencer, you’re likely seeing the prettiest smile out of billions of smiles. A smile that has been further improved through thousands of dollars of spending, many photography tricks, and just a little bit of photo editing to make it perfect. It’s not fair to compare any person’s smile to that supercharged image you see on social media, but your brain doesn’t know that, hence the insecurity.
What can you do about it?
There are a series of steps you can take in order to avoid feeling bad about yourself when browsing social media. Most of them have to do with putting into context the images you see on screen and understanding that they’re not real, not really. They’re as real as the exaggerated displays of might you see in superhero movies.
Here are some things you should remind yourself whenever you feel insecure on social media.
1 – Most of the best pictures are heavily staged and edited.
2 – People only show the best part of themselves online, glossing over their flaws.
3 – Anyone can fake a great smile, no matter how cranky they really feel.
4 – The people who make you feel insecure are also full of insecurities themselves.
5 – You would also look great if you spent that much money on yourself, and had a team around you managing your image. Of course, it’s also good to take breaks from time to time and make sure to follow normal people on top of those who look like they have perfect lives. Finally, if you deal with anxiety on top of feeling insecure, it’s always good to implement some natural calming remedies into your routine. Check out Cibdol.com if you’d like to learn more about those.