Is social media making the rat race even worse?

Is social media making the rat race worse?

From Fast Company, on purpose and passion vs. money in terms of how you evaluate jobs:

In the age of social media, we’re bombarded by pressure to continually achieve. Facebook is simply an online archive of people’s mini-achievements. Because we’re so overly exposed to others’ lives, the pressure to perform and climb the ladder is more intense than ever before.

I’d go “yes and no” on this one. Let’s evaluate.

1. The Preponderance of Social Media: This is something we often ignore in these discussions, and we shouldn’t. Think about it like this to start: you probably have some friends, including some good ones, who aren’t on Facebook — and if they are, they might barely use it. You probably have even more friends like that when it comes to Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn. Depending on your age, this will vary for Instagram and Snapchat.

As of January 2015, about 58 percent of Americans were on Facebook. That’s only a little bit more than 1 in 2 — and remember, that study doesn’t take into account how active they are. I know people who post 15 times a day; I also know people with accounts who post maybe once a year.

The thing we forget is that people who write articles are journalists, and by and large, journalists need to be on social media to expand their reach. So they make an assumption in many articles that “the age of social media” is omnipresent. It’s definitely a major turning point in how we communicate and how sales/marketing work, yes, but is it omnipresent for everyone? Of course not.

2. Is your social media profile your real self, or your curated self? This is a major psychological question of the next 10-30 years, but humans will do what we do: ignore the big issue and post cute cat pics instead. (#GetIt) There’s actually research indicating that, over time, your FB profile is pretty much a good picture of your real self. I broke out ‘over time’ because that’s the key — no one sits and analyzes 500 data points from their friend (“Oh, he liked Nickelback, eh?”). People respond to the latest post or thing. I do believe many people try to curate that aspect. If you look at the last 10 posts for a given person, probably 8-9 are positive or sharing some type of news/link/idea. At most, 1-2 are negative. People don’t like to discuss failure. Why would you want to discuss it in a forum where random people from high school could see it?

3. The rat race nowadays: I don’t even know if ‘the rat race’ truly exists anymore. It’s more the ‘stay afloat’ race for a lot of people. Earnings are stagnant, young people aren’t saving money, and there’s some evidence companies are promoting/advancing people less and less. In a contextual situation like that, people might be a little more concerned with their stuff, as opposed to worrying about all the cool stuff their friends seem to be doing or achieving.

4. The Act II Paradox: Act II — i.e. the middle part of your life — is where everything happens, which means good stuff but also downright shitty stuff. Unless you want to die young, you can’t skip the second act. Your parents will probably die in this period, and you may have job setbacks, marriage/relationship issues, and fall out with friends. Like I mentioned above, very few people like to openly discuss failure — so you’re going to see more moments around engagements, beautiful sunsets, couple photos, cute babies, houses with a ‘Sold’ sign, etc. That’s just life, and how people want to present theirs outward. Social media amplifies that, yes, and it’s best to understand that. If you take it too seriously, it will cause you depression, yes. There’s no way around that argument.

5. How do we stop the comparisons? Some of it you can’t stop — it’s human nature. As for some strategies, though, here’s a good one:

Make a list of activities and then schedule them onto a calendar. Since we often spend time on social media when we have little else going on, having scheduled plans will reduce the time we are sitting idle.

Yep. At this point, pretty much the only reason I check Facebook ever is to (a) share something or (b) because I’m bored. More scheduled activities = less boredom = less comparison points of your life to others. That’s actually been helpful.

There’s also this:

Instead of comparing yourself to others, re-focus your energy on what matters to you, says Sally Anne Giedrys, a Portland, Oregon-based career coach. “The more we pay attention to others, the less we are grounded in ourselves and what matters to us,” she says. “It can be fueled by a lack of purpose, direction, or commitment within our own lives.”

That brings it back to a work context somewhat — companies are notoriously bad at providing purpose to employees, but having a job where you have some context, passion, or purpose around it is oftentimes way more valuable than just good compensation. If you can find a sweet spot between “a place I’m respected” and “a place where I can grow,” that’s going to mean more to you than a fat paycheck — and it’s going to mean more to the organization too, because you will organically work harder and want to achieve awesome things.




Ted Bauer