Strangers on the Internet
Lately I keep getting offered ads/links to this artist named Emily McDowell. They were everywhere so I finally clicked on the link.
The bots at google know me pretty well, because I loved her stuff. She makes cards and prints and coffee mugs with cool sayings on them. I wanted to buy all of them, but there was one in particular that really stood out to me. It said "I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet." (You can buy it here)
This pops into my head all the time now. I have taken to repeating it over and over like a mantra: I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet. I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet. I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet. I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.
Between Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and reality TV a decent amount of our recreational time these days is spent watching or clicking through "aspirational" nonsense from strangers on the internet.
And maybe they're not really "strangers" per se, but that friend of a friend you met that one time and are friends with on fb certainly isn't telling you about all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into whatever is making you jealous.
On the internet everyone is having more fun than you, is prettier than you, is more successful than you, is craftier than you, is fitter than you, and is probably nicer than you.
If you want the thing or want to do the thing, then someone on the internet has already gotten the thing and done the thing before you and documented themselves looking amazing doing it.
These internet strangers are killing it. Or it damn sure looks like it.
Most of the time, the aspirational bullshit doesn't get to me. But lately I've had a strong case of the not-quite-good-enoughs and have come down with a raging case of jealousy. And I know it's not reasonable or rational or any of those sorts of things, but I still feel like I could be doing more, like I'm not quite cool.
So it was perfect when I saw the Emily McDowell prints about not comparing yourself to strangers on the internet. I needed to hear that.
I think that the internet can connect us and make us feel better- we just have to be honest with each other. There are a couple of internet strangers (Jenny Lawson at The Bloggess, Eli McCann at It Just Gets Stranger, and anything by Cheryl Strayed) that are really good at that. They always bring me back to reality; they paint a beautiful picture of their lives and while still talking about difficult, weird, and potentially gross stuff.
So, if you, like me, find yourself having a strong case of the jelly monsters, try to shake it off.
Do not compare yourself to strangers on the internet. Remind yourself that the version of anything that is presented on the internet is highly curated and not necessarily a picture of real life.