Comparison in a World of Social Media
As humans we automatically compare ourselves to others, this can be a way of positive improvement through seeing our targets in someone else. We can also compare our present self to our past self and see how we have grown as a person. Comparisons give us a sense or how we measure up, which is valuable information for self improvement. However, there is a dark side to comparing ourselves that can result in real consequences, that can effect your life and actions permanently.
Social media can be seen to demonstrate the negative effects of comparison. Platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok all have face altering filters for when you record and take a photo. Over half of the worlds population uses social media, that means over half the population is being exposed to seeing filtered models, influencers, celebrities and friends online. Although, posting filtered can just be a fun hobby to update your profile and make your skin look a bit smoother or face a bit different to in real life to minimise an insecurity, the consequence can lead to things such as Snapchat dysmorphia through the human habit of comparison.
Snapchat dysmorphia and its effects
The concept of Snapchat dysmorphia is a recent one that has risen with the growing popularity of social media platforms and their subsequent filters that come with them. Snapchat dysmorphia refers to the constant exposure to filtered and altered posts that leads you to forget that people don’t actually look like that in real life, leading you to fixate on your own real life perceived imperfections and want to alter them to match the images seen or get a sense of dissatisfaction with a body and face you were once comfortable with.
Recently there has been a growth in the desire to get cosmetic pressures such as filler. Reports have concluded that social media is to blame for this rise. This report conclusion supports the idea of Snapchat dysmorphia as young people are trying to make their faces match those seen on edited and filtered posts on social media in real life to boost confidence and fit in with a filtered beauty standard. This then results in more people comparing themselves in real life and creates a loop of insecurity if you don’t match the beauty standards of what is seen in others.
The effects of filters and snapchat dysmorphia can come in less harmful but still negative ways. I can speak from personal experience on this, as a young woman who uses social media platforms multiple times daily, especially Instagram and snapchat. I find myself unable to send a selfie on snapchat to even my closest friends without a filter, the filter smooths and evens my skin as well as giving me a tanned glow. This is due to comparing my natural skin, that doesn't always look even and has imperfections, to the photos of the people I follow on social media who always have flawless photos.
Although I am personally not changing anything in real life, I can clearly see the effects of filters on my daily use and thoughts when using my own platforms. I can see how being exposed to filters and unrealistic beauty standards can make you negatively compare yourself.
Final thought and challenge
To conclude, with the rise of social media has increased the negative impacts of comparing our bodies and faces. Its no longer just celebrities on magazine covers who use airbrushing, where audiences know it takes a team to make their gorgeous look possible, social media and its filters and editing apps that have risen with it makes audiences feel that the looks seen are accomplished by the individual, and easily.
I have challenged myself to show my true authentic self on my social media to try and break this comparative filter loop. Having more authentic bodies and faces filling these platforms it will help stop consequences such as snapchat dysmorphia which can lead to life long changes through cosmetic surgery which may be regretted if the filter and influencers looks change.
I also task you to try and stop using filters yourself on your posts! Creating an authentic space, as we are always going to subject ourselves to comparing to others, let's focus on real photos.