Do you ever feel less than perfect when a search on Pinterest reveals cookies shaped like scrabble pieces and sandwiches resembling lovable Disney characters? Or, does a few minutes on Facebook fill you with envy over your friend's great vacations and their mistake-proof kids? It might help to hear the results of recent research.
"People use Facebook to compensate for their own deficiencies. Facebook highlights the positive aspects and can cover up the negative parts in you," said Stefan Hofmann, PhD, Professor of Psychology.
Psychology professors recently took a comprehensive look at 22 recent studies and found most people use social networks for two common reasons. One: a sense of belonging, and two: self-presentation.
"It can be an opportunity to create a life that one wants to live rather than a life that the person actually lives," said Hofmann.
These days, it seems everyone is logged on and living ideal lives. Christie Crowder recently decided she needed a reality check and took a break from it all.
"I virtually unplugged from everything just to let my brain breathe," said Crowder.
She's not alone. A quick search shows others quitting social media, calling it "Fakebook," or saying it makes life miserable. Crowder didn't feel that extreme. However she did want, and found, a new attitude about it all.
"I realized that I don't have to fit in as much as I thought I did. I can just exist," she said.
Rene Syler has nicknamed herself the "Good Enough Mother". She's written a book and maintains a web site of the same name, GoodEnoughMother.com. She's tired of the competitive parenting trend she's seen on social media and beyond.
"Social media is a wonderful, wonderful tool, but do you think anyone is going to put their bad foot forward? Of course not," said Syler.
She reminds parents to put what they see, from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest, into perspective.
"This is not real life. I always say it's important to parent for the people who matter in your own life and those are the people under your own roof," said Syler.
Crowder agrees and endorses unplugging to others.
"It was an experience that I really need and recommend for anyone that can stomach it."
Crowder said before she unplugged, she gave her friends fair warning, letting them know a few weeks in advance that she'd be off the radar for a bit but was still available by phone, if needed. When she finally did log back on, she found a lot of friends wanted advice on unplugging too.