Compare and despair

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.


When we scroll through our feed we want to see something that’s either aspirational or motivating. We go on Instagram to escape from our problems or worries and to upload the best parts of our lives so that when we look back on our feed we think, “Wow, what a great few months I’ve had.” I guess it’s like looking back at our own gratitude list and I love social media for that, for allowing us to curate a feed of positive moments in our lives.

One photo I uploaded during the experiment was one of me with my niece in her playroom, and another was me working on my laptop. I felt uncomfortable doing it because to me I thought, “This is such a boring picture, why would anyone want to see this?” It really emphasised just how much we think about people’s opinions when uploading things to our feed.

I have a real love-hate relationship with social media. While I love it for the motivational and aspirational things that I see, it can equally exacerbate feelings of insecurity and anxiousness. I can often come off Instagram feeling quite low. It’s like this addiction when you post a picture, because you want the likes to give you that “high” but then you’re always left looking at your feed with a sense of “oh well I’m not having as much fun as that”.

It’s that “compare and despair” attitude, as Fearne Cotton has phrased it. I think people have always done this, even before social media. Before digital cameras you would invite your neighbours round and show them your photo album from your holiday, or you’d perfect your front garden to have the best roses in the neighbourhood. Now you just post another picture to Facebook.

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