I think I might need to take a break from social networking. I have a profile on Facebook and have had a largely enjoyable experience. It's a great way to keep in touch during a time in life where it's difficult to keep track of graduations, engagements, marriages, and babies. The break I need to take from Facebook has nothing to do with my friends on it, but rather the negative perception I get when I compare my life to others.
When seeing what friends and acquaintances are doing in their lives, it's too easy to compare. It's even easier to cluster everyone's great experiences into one. After glancing through profiles it's easy for me to say to myself "Well, I should be buying a home, getting a Master's degree, doing missionary work in China, starting my own business, making cloth diapers, attending daily Mass, having another child, and traveling to exotic locations." Of course, I don't know a single person who does all of this, but it can seem like it to an insecure mom who's trying to determine if she's doing a good job.
I have goals set for myself and for our family that I am daily trying to attain, yet I waste my energy comparing myself to others who are doing trying to do their best, too. Almost everyone I know, no, everyone, struggles with the occasional bout of thinking they're not as good as the rest and if they changed only a little that their problems would be solved. I'm an advocate for self-improvement and trying to do our best in general, but if we feel awful when we compare our efforts to our neighbor's then what's the point? In fact, I believe it to be an obstacle toward holiness rather than a tool. In that case, it's important to surround ourselves with those that lift us up while we all try to do what we can given what we have been individually blessed with.
As far as Facebook goes, on tired mornings with dishes in the sink from the night before, a cranky toddler and a rainy day, I shouldn't dwell on others' achievements and my failures, but pick myself up from where I'm at and look forward to the afternoon.