Too much time online can lead to feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.
Too much time online can lead to feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.

In many ways, the Internet has been a godsend during this pandemic. Can you imagine what it would be like to socially distant in a world in which you also couldn’t Zoom, email, Insta, or Snapchat? Like all good things, though, there can be downsides to spending too much time online. It can sometimes lead you to feel inadequate, especially if you are comparing your life to social influencers.

Challenge Your Thinking

It’s important to challenge your thoughts around what you see and read online. Seeing influencers at home can create a false sense of intimacy, making viewers forget that what they are actually watching is a worker doing their job.  Keeping audience members engaged, impressed, and wanting more is what influencers do to get paid. This isn’t too different from faking a smile and cheery disposition while you serve lattes or pulling it together for the marketing meeting with your boss.  It’s an image that someone wants to project in order to protect their livelihood, not necessarily a reflection of their personal reality. If you begin to feel inadequate compared to a social influencer, remember that they have a lot of financial incentive to make themselves the object of envy.

How Much Time Online is “Too Much”?

What constitutes “too much” time online depends on your individual tolerance so it’s important to stay in tune with how you are feeling. Each person needs to gauge this for themselves, asking, “Is what I am reading or watching making me feel worse about my life?”  For some people, almost any social media use will create negative feelings, while others may have a higher tolerance.  Hitting this saturation point is a sign that it’s time to take a break and do something in the “real” world, like take a walk or call a friend. 

Reach Out When You’re Having a Hard Time

It’s also important to be honest when you are not okay.  Opening up to friends and loved ones about how you’re doing can bring you closer.  It’s hard, after all, to relate to someone “perfect.”  In sharing your own struggles, you just might make a positive difference for someone you care about, rather than making them feel “less than,” too.

Having Trouble Shaking Off Feelings of Inadequacy?

Consider reaching out to talk to a therapist about how you’ve been feeling. It’s possible that your escalating comparisons and that feeling of being inadequate are a sign of something else, such as depression or anxiety. A therapist can also work with you using the approach called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. Making comparisons between yourself and someone online whom you do not know is a self-defeating practice that, by design, will make you feel defeated and less-than. CBT teaches you how to evaluate your own thinking, rather than accepting everything you think as absolutely true. Using CBT, your therapist can help you sort it all out and chart a healthy way forward online and in the real world.+

Want to read more about online inadequacy? Here’s an article you may find interesting.