Social Media and Comparison-itis

Mindfulness & Mental Health

Last week I saw a post in one of the Facebook groups I belong to. One of my fellow members has a son who has decided to look into to how much screen-time adults have, on the belief that adults are on their phones more than children are.

Well. I do believe he was right. For pretty much as far back as I can remember, I’ve been dealing with anxiety, partly about perfectionism, and partly social comparison. Over the past year or so I have noticed that the social comparison part of this has gotten worse. I am finding it harder to see other people’s success or talent and be excited about it, like I used to. Now, it feels like competition. And I’m usually the loser.

I really, really don’t like this feeling. It was wonderful to see someone do something awesome and feel inspired, or just respond to their work as a reader/viewer. This space of judgement sucks.

Last time I was in this place, I worked on my self-acceptance, and this feeling went away. While I am trying the same approach this time, I’ve discovered that I need to work harder to get the same results.

So back to the experiment. We were asked to download a tracker app onto our phones (I’m on Android so got QualityTime) which shows our usage. The first day I had SIX HOURS of screen time. Imagine what I could have got done in the time that I was checking in on my phone? My average for the week so far (Sat – Thurs, so 6 days) is 4h 15m, with social media taking up about 2h of that time.

Now, there is definitely value in social media. I have made some beautiful connections and very real friendships. It helps build my presence as an author / artist, and also helps sell my books. I can help other creatives out by sharing their work, too.

But do I really need to be on there for two hours a day? I don’t think so. Do I need to be researching, or checking emails, or getting advice from <insert expert here>, or whatever it is I’m doing for another two hours? Definitely not.

I feel that this has something to do with the feelings of comparison-itis. If I am scrolling through other people’s highlights for so much time in a day, and reading or listening to other people’s advice (people who I deem are higher up the food chain), then maybe it’s only natural that this feeds into my social comparison.

Phase one of the experiment ends today, when we will send our stats in and get back suggestions to reduce our usage. I look forward to sharing my reduced usage time with you, and letting you know how I am feeling next week!

Being an industrious writer

Thoughts & Ramblings

I met up with a fellow writer yesterday, who I’d originally met at the Green Bay Creative Writers group. She called me industrious. I wasn’t sure if I agreed but I let it go and accepted the compliment (as it was meant).

It’s been on my mind since then. I have a habit of doing this – reading a lot (too much?) into what people say, no matter how flippant or careless the comment may have been. Am I industrious?

I suppose, on the outside, I seem industrious. Especially to people outside the writing industry, and to people who are more familiar with the publishing house timelines of a year, or more, between books. When I’m reminded that I’ve published 3 books in 7 months, and that two years ago I knew almost nothing about writing a book – let alone publishing it! – I start to think that perhaps I am.

But then I remember my friends. Writers who have done so much more, for so much longer. From writing novels that are thousands and thousands of words longer than mine, to organising nationwide festivals & conferences, to setting up their own publishing companies – or just managing to write between a family and a full-time job. Am I really industrious compared to all of that?

Oxford tells me that industrious means ‘diligent and hard-working’.  Other definitions add ‘problem solver’ and ‘working tirelessly’.

I am not diligent all the time, but I am persistent, and although I feel hypocritical for saying I am hard-working as I laze on the couch at midday with my laptop on my knees and the kettle boiling, I am certainly working hard towards what I want to achieve.

So, perhaps I am industrious – in my own way, and with plenty of tea-breaks ☕