Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me

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In one of the chapters (Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? Comparing Ourselves to Others and the Importance of Being Liked“) in the book “The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost,” the author curated factual statements from interviewed students about the issues with social media, comparison, and inauthenticity.


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?


The following are some of the issues that were discussed.


Insecurity and anxiety


One of the interviewed students, Margaret, insinuated how social media contributes to her insecurity, depression and anxiety as she constantly compares herself with others.

For example, Margaret says: “You can just click on other people’s posts, see everything that everyone’s doing, and when I see that on Facebook, I think, ‘Oh, they’re doing all that; they’re just so happy.'” 

Margaret also talked about how she grades herself based on the number of “likes” she gets on social media posts and how it affects her self-esteem negatively.


Fakeness & Inauthenticity


Another interviewee, Micheal, suggested that social media is all about performance and an effort to impress others. For example, He says: “I feel like social media is very not authentic.” “It’s kind of an ego thing, I think. It’s all about the ‘likes.’ It’s all about, ‘What can I do to show everybody else how great my life is?‘”

Micheal also talked about the facade of social media life. He says, “Social media gives this false image that you’re living a perfect life.” “That your life is just like a fairy tale. Like, everything is good at all times because you don’t want people to see you at your low times. You want them to see only the good times so that they go, ‘Wow, I want to live like him.

Michael believes social media “affects people’s happiness for the worse.”




Another interviewee, Laura, thinks social media is all about one-upping each other. She says: “People try and one-up each other all the time.” 

For example, Laura recounts how she and her friends sit around, drink and take pictures of each other and post them on Instagram.” Then once the pictures are up, they compare who got more “likes” and comments and replies. 

She says, “people post not because they want to share about their lives, they are posting, instead, to prove how superior they are.”

In other words, social media can encourage unhealthy competition among people who evaluate themselves through the social media popularity principle, i.e., approval and affirmation from social media likes.




According to Micheal, social media can make us feel, perhaps ironically, really isolated.” 

For example, many of the students interviewed hinted that seeing other people’s social media posts as they are having fun and feeling left out can trigger a lonely feeling.




According to Margaret, she bullied herself by putting herself down on many things and judging herself critically. 

Hannah, also a student interviewed, recounted how she was once a victim of cyberbullying. She says, “a girl from school wouldn’t stop calling her a slut online.”


Personal experience


I was a heavy social media user between 27 and 35 years old. I can relate to all of the issues outlined above. There was a time when I was also caught up in the social media paparazzi; however, over time, I developed a thick skin — after bouts of anxiety and a rollercoaster of self-esteem, of course!

I had to unfriend my friends across all my social media accounts to manage the rollercoaster of self-esteem I was experiencing — it worked. 

Currently, Whatsapp is the only platform I am active on, and anytime I sense low self-esteem from any of my contact’s WhatsApp statuses, I will mute their status as I fear being influenced by it. 

Why? Because I believe insecurity/low self-esteem is contagious.