In fact, I come up very short in social media comparison of my online self to my real life self. Online me is a fearless, straight-shooting, awesome(ish) communicator. While nothing about that is an actual lie, it’s not always true. Just like everyone else, I illustrate certain points and let people see part but not all of me.
Comparison is the thief of online joy.” futuristic T. Roosevelt
Sometimes I think the only reason I write is so I can appear like I’m interacting with others when really it’s a way to keep everyone at arms length and feel like I’m part of the world without actually being part of it. I love connecting, but would just rather do it online than in real life most of the time.
I talk endlessly about pushing fear, but I don’t always do that. My wife’s always wanted to go on a roller coaster with me, but I’m afraid of heights and refuse to. She asked me once that if her dying wish was to ride one with me, would I? I told her we’d find something else on her last day to do. She wasn’t impressed.
When I was on instagram, I was always adventuring with my hipster, retro-looking Fuji camera. In reality though, even if the weather’s good, I tend to be in my office, by myself, working. The camera’s hung on the wall behind me more often than not.
I talk a lot about creation over consumption when in reality there are times I’d rather watch shitty action movies in my underwear and eat coconut ice cream.
Even someone like James Altucher who appears to have zero filters around making himself seem like an asshole just adds to the fact how human and likeable he is in his apparent unlikeability. Even in my own brutally honest way, I can’t compare to how he does it.
This makes it tough in our own minds because comparison obviously happens. I’m not nearly as awesome as the people I follow on twitter who are always doing epic shit. We let a fantasy we have of reality be what we compare our actual reality to and we end up feeling bad when we come up short.
But even if the factors for comparison were identical, and all points were considered, what purpose would the comparison serve?
It is worth being aware of this regardless though, that who we portray ourselves in the online world tends to be putting our best foot forward. There’s nothing wrong with sharing only some things if they’re honest, but next time you think you don’t measure up to anyone else, consider that they’re doing the same by putting their best foot, intentions, ideas, life, etc… forward too.
They may be sitting alone, watching bad action movies and eating coconut ice cream too. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
Hi, I'm Paul Jarvis. I write a weekly newsletter called the Sunday Dispatches where I share articles about working and living online with 35k subscribers: