In 1954, the social psychologist Leon Festinger put forward the social comparison theory, which posits that we try to determine our worth based on how we stack up against others.
In the era of social media, such comparisons take place on a screen with carefully curated depictions that don’t provide the full picture. Mobile devices escalate the comparisons from occasional to nearly constant.
Gregory T. Eells, director of counseling and psychological services at Cornell University, believes social media is a huge contributor to the misperception among students that peers aren’t also struggling.
When students remark during a counseling session that everyone else on campus looks happy, he tells them: “I walk around and think, ‘That one’s gone to the hospital. That person has an eating disorder. That student just went on antidepressants.’ As a therapist, I know that nobody is as happy or as grown-up as they seem on the outside.”
MANY COLLEGE STUDENTS TODAY THINK THAT THEY ARE INADEQUATE AND UNHAPPY COMPARED TO EVERYONE ELSE---largely because of the pressure of their life and false impressions through social media.
Remember: You don't have to be a student to call a help line. You can be a caregiver, pastor, parent or friend to ask for information and support.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.