Today’s big idea is that one reason perfectionism is proliferating is because of social media. It’s just so easy to spend hours a day looking at posts of people who appear to look perfect and have perfect lives. And while it’s fun to get ideas for new ways to put together outfits or style your home or whatever kind of inspiration that gets you to head to social media, it can also become a habit that blossoms into an addiction–one that’s not great for our self-esteem. That’s why today, we will be talking about a different type of social influencer. One that I like to call, a “messy mentor.”
You’re reading the transcript of an episode of the How to Be a Better Person podcast. If you’d rather listen, click the play button below.
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Social media addictions are worse for young people, especially women
Recently a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal revealed that Facebook, which owns Instagram, is full aware of this effect. One of the slides in a 2019 presentation the the company prepared for its executives says:
‘We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.’
And another said,
‘Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,‘ said another slide.
So it’s important to remember that while you may be experiencing perfectionism and some of its negative effects, which I covered in episodes 565, the young people in your life are very likely experiencing them too, and to an even greater extent. All the more reason to think about how you can turn down the volume on your own perfectionism–so you can model that behavior for them, too.
Thanks to social media it’s easier than ever to immerse yourself in images of seemingly perfect people, in seemingly perfect spaces, living seemingly perfect lives. It seems like a fun diversion, but it’s often creating feeling of anxiety, depression, and making us feel worse about ourselves.
So, what to do?
Well, you COULD get off social media all together, and I would applaud you. There is a time and a place for everything, after all, and that includes a time to just step away from the scroll.
Or…. you could do some pruning of whose posts you see. If you’re following a bunch of fitness influencers who post a bunch of photos of themselves looking amazing in workout clothes, you could stop following them. If you’re following people who are clearly using professional photographers to document their home lives, you could delete them from your feed. And in their place, you could add some folks who are decidedly, loudly, and proudly imperfect.
I like to think of them as messy mentors. People who share stuff that’s real; including plenty of unvarnished glimpses of real life with all its realities (like piles of laundry in the background, or imperfect bodies, or unkempt hair.)
For me, my messy mentor is Amy Schumer
Seeing her in her sloppy bun and her shearling slippers and jammy pants on Instagram or her HBO documentary series is like putting aloe on a sunburn to me. I just love that she does not appear to give a damn about looking perfect and cute all the time. It inspires me to feel better about my schlubby moments.
And…honestly it’s been hard for me to find other people to follow on social media who are proudly imperfect. Who do you follow who keeps it real? And makes you feel like it’s ok to be a mess? I mean, I would REALLY love to know. I’ve got a link to email me in the show notes–please share!
Of course, it’s important to have messy mentors in real life too
Who are the people in your life who are honest about their struggles and imperfections yet they inspire you nonetheless, or perhaps even more so because you know they’re not some superhuman, they’re a bit of a mess but they still fight the good fight?
It’s easy to pay attention to the people who seem to be so put together, whether it’s someone in your friend group, or maybe someone you don’t know that well but see regularly, like you’re in the same networking group or your kids go to the same school. Just ask yourself, am I drawn to them because they seem perfect? And is there someone who maybe is worthy of more of my attention even though–or because–they they’re a bit of a mess? If you can appreciate imperfections in other people, you’ll be more appreciative of them in yourself, too.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to do some editing of who you’re looking up to. Take some concrete steps to reduce your exposure to people who broadcast perfection, both on social media and in real life. Unfollow folks who give you that “oh boy she’s really got it all together” pang, and make more space for the folks who are just normal and imperfect to shine through.
That’s it from me this week. Hope you have a great weekend.
AND if you have requests for things you’d like me to cover in the future, please, use the contact Kate link in the show notes and send me your ideas? How are you feeling heading into the holidays this year? Is there something you’re wrestling with that you’d like to think about differently? I’m all ears!