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mw editorial

how social media comparisons influence happiness

February 23, 2020

Social media is an intrinsically tough environment for those suffering from mental illness. Online spaces often have minimal or completely absent moderation, leading to targeted harassment. People often behave in ways that they wouldn’t in more traditional settings. These are the most widely recognized issues with using services like Twitter and Facebook.

However, it’s often the most positive social media content that influences negative perceptions in those who engage with it. While the blatantly aggressive and negative aspects of social media are often discussed, some of the most seemingly innocuous content has powerful effects on people, especially those suffering from self-esteem issues.

Only Seeing the Best of the Best

Social media platforms are built to encourage interesting content. People are discouraged from sharing the parts of themselves that don’t garner as many likes/thumbs ups/etc. as possible. So much of the positive content they share tends to be extraordinary.

Users post their perfect, finished omelette, not the one they burnt moments before. They post pictures of their one night out with out-of-town friends for the next few months, not the 364 nights where they watched Netflix for a few hours before getting to bed early to get to work on time.

And intuitively, we all know this. We know people don’t exist in a perfect state of happiness and perfection 24/7. But social media makes it harder to deny that other people aren’t living better than you are, on average. You see a feed of dozens, even hundreds of people, all sharing the very best slice of time from that day. Over and over.

The Thief of Joy

The thief of joy, ironically, is often the joy of others. This is beyond simple jealousy; it’s a perfectly understandable expression of self-loathing. The perception that others simply enjoy life far more than you do is reinforced in a material way: you see those beautiful pictures, you read those posts about wonderful moments.

Solving this issue is complex. Many of the people making those very posts that make you feel bad about yourself may feel the same way when they see the isolated bits of yourself that you share. If social media has become a toxic space for you, it may be time to disengage somewhat. Or, if possible, work on your relationship with social media, with help from a professional.

It’s hard to change perceptions, even if you logically recognize the realities of social media discussed here. That’s okay! Knowing is the first step; improving is the road ahead.


The truth is, there’s no single or one-size-fits-all definition of success. Everyone has a different idea of what they want their life to look like. That is why it’s important to get clear on what that looks like for you. Once you have a better understanding of yourself and your values, you can start designing your life based on the things that are most important to you. 

Therapy for women in Manhattan and Brooklyn is a great way to figure out what success looks like for you. At Manhattan Wellness, we will provide you with a safe space to explore your feelings and goals. So you can find clarity on what you want for yourself. We will pair your vulnerability with our empathy and encouragement. Then together we will uncover the key elements that will take you from where you are now to where you want to be. If you are ready to make the changes you want in your life:

  1. Submit a Contact Form or Email Us at
  2. Learn More About Our Team of Female Therapists and Our Areas of Expertise
  3. Let’s Talk About How We Can Help You Feel Empowered & Ready To Take The Next Step. 

We believe that you have the power within yourself to make the changes you want and find your version of success. Our female therapists are here to support you in navigating this journey. Allowing you to reclaim your identity and take control of your life. Thus allowing you to create the future you’ve been dreaming of.

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