Obsessive Comparison Disorder – the latest social media-induced mental health issue

OCD just got new meaning in the latest social anxiety disorder to be blamed on the importance of being self-important in the virtual world. ‘Obsessive Comparison Disorder’ may have always existed but the hyper-reality of social media networks like Facebook and Instagram have heightened the wired generation’s need to excel and exceed. Or at least be seen to be doing so.

Grazia magazine described the new OCD as the result of ‘over-sharing’ and ‘Insta-bragging.’ Seeing the inner-workings of your peer group’s lives (however edited and curated for maximum effect) has made a modern day monster of FOMO (Fear of missing out). Grazia’s Zoe Beaty described her own struggles with  OCD – “I’m lucky, I’m 25 and my life is otherwise pretty much in order, give or take a few overdrafts. And yet, I’m never satisfied…Everyday I compare myself to anyone and everyone I encounter. It could be a stranger on the street who dresses better than me, a work colleague next to whom I feel embarrassingly unintelligent, or a friend who’s definitely having more fun than me/ more grown-up than me/ knows more bands than me.” Like Zoe, the details of many of our embarrassments and inadequacies are superficial and perhaps even childish but try and convince yourself that you don’t need to worry about who’s going to what festival with who, when your news feed is bursting at the seams with fun times you’re not participating in. compared Facebook to ‘a bad high school party — you don’t really want to be there, but feel like you have to go. Every time you show up you hope it will be different. That you’ll actually hang out with cool people, connect with friends, and leave feeling alive. But in the end, you’ll go to bed wondering why you just wasted three hours of your life yet again.’  Like Zoe Beaty, many younger people, particularly women, are trapped in a damaging comparison cycle that they will never win in. Beaty goes on to say. “Of course it’s nothing new – our natural instincts tell us to sniff out how we measure up to our peers as a means for survival.”  And ‘survival’ just got digital.

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