Highlight Reel Syndrome (HRS)

Stop Comparing Your Entire Life to Someone Else’s Highlight Reel

We all have “that” friend or family member – you know, the one who complains to you endlessly in private about how unhappy they are in their relationship or job, yet posts all over social media about how they have the perfect marriage or the greatest job ever. You might feel sorry for them or roll your eyes, but other people might believe it and as a result, convince themselves that their own lives are miserable. “Look at Susan, always posting cute couples pics and telling everyone how in love they are. She’s so lucky. Why can’t I have love like that?” Susan doesn’t share the bad times, she only shares her highlight reel.

Humans have always been an envious and jealous species, but it’s far more prevalent now with Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and…you get the point. For one thing, it’s much easier to fake a smile for a quick photo than it is to give a convincing hour-long show of affection in public when you’re actually still pissed off about how he left his socks on the floor last night – again. It’s easy in this social media age to hide the truth, to act like you never argue and everything is sunshine and roses.

Also, before the Internet, we might only physically encounter our friends and family on occasion, whereas now we’re exposed to everyone’s lives all day long. If you’re anything like I am, you check Facebook dozens of times a day. Most of us have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) and we need to know what everyone else is up to every minute of the day and we want to share what we’ve got going on, too. Lord knows I can’t make it through my day without knowing what Linda ate for lunch or if Laura made it to the gym this morning.

Some people, who might already be feeling bad about themselves, see Susan’s photo from last summer’s vacation with Dave where they’re kissing on the beach and they think Susan and Dave are living the dream. They’re happy all the time. They never disagree or fight, they’d never dream of looking at another person, they’re living happily ever after. Maybe Betty is single and she desperately wants to be married. Every time she starts dating someone and something isn’t quite perfect, she gets more depressed and sabotages the relationship. She thinks maybe she isn’t meant to be happy. She’ll never have the kind of love Susan and Dave have. She’s just not worthy.

Meanwhile, the truth is that Susan and Dave fight all the time. They’re on the verge of divorce and that cruise last summer was a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. They’re struggling and working through their issues, but they are FAR from the perfect couple depicted in their social media highlight reel.

Quit comparing yourself to others’ public displays. Focus on making yourself happy. Realize that life isn’t perfect all the time. Couples argue and disagree. Give that guy who left the toilet seat up another shot. Dave does the same thing, but Susan doesn’t take a photo and post it on Instagram. She’s too busy staging her next perfect family photo and finding a marriage counselor.

Depressed Woman