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Hear Me Out: Comparison

Question: What are the pitfalls of comparing yourself to other people?

I have never participated in Lent before. Growing up in the Church of Christ, I never experienced Ash Wednesday, Lent or Good Friday. To me, these Catholic sentiments held little to no value to my spiritual life. This year is different.

On Wednesday, I participated in an Ash Wednesday service in Scott Chapel with a few Oklahoma Christian University students and faculty. Originally, I attended the service to participate in a practice done by Christians since the fourth century, but I received more than the simple cultural experience I originally anticipated.

As the service continued, the theme of sacrifice permeated through the scriptures read, songs sung and words spoken. God sacrificed Jesus, and therefore we must sacrifice ourselves for his sake. So, in the spirit of sacrifice, I have decided to give up social media for Lent.

No one clicked on this link to hear about Christian history or Ash Wednesday. Earlier this week, Talon editor Errett Edwards wrote an important article about screen time usage. In the article he said phones are “becoming an adult’s pacifier. We need it. We want it. We have to check our social feeds. Put the phone down. Pick it back up. We cannot help ourselves.”

These words struck me. I am incredibly guilty of this. Worse, I spend a majority of my time on social media, comparing myself to other people’s lives.

Intellectually, I know people put the best parts of themselves on their Instagram feed. I know the photos are edited and staged. Still, I cannot help but compare my life to the lives of people who are more attractive than I am and have with more money than I do.

I spent years lying to myself, believing my overabundance of time spent of Instagram had no effect on my life. I thought I was too strong of a person to be affected by something as trivial as Instagram posts. I was wrong.

As a student in high school, my parents did not allow me to have social media accounts. I could not have an Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. I had so much time. At the time I did not think about it too much.

Fast forward to the summer before my freshman year at Oklahoma Christian. I had the opportunity to attend First Class with the university, a 10-day study abroad program in Vienna, Austria. 

I had a slightly different experience than some other students on the trip. Not to say the other students did not stop to notice the beauty all around us, but taking photographs never crossed my mind. Posing in front of buildings and castles was a foreign concept.

During my first semester, I downloaded Instagram, and the app inevitably affected me. I began thinking about pictures to post before events. I connected with people from Oklahoma Christian before I had the opportunity to meet them in person. I found myself slowly accepting trends and buying clothes based on the images I saw. I became less of me and more of a perceived image I wanted people to accept.

Social media is not all bad, but I think we need to take an honest look at how it may be affecting our body image, desires and overall schedule. During Lent, I am not only fasting from social media, but I am also fasting from vanity and comparison as well.

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