The World Wants You to Hate Yourself. Here’s How To Fight Back.
I had a thought recently: the world wants you to hate yourself. What do I mean by this? I mean the entire society and subsequent economy are built on self-loathing. Take advertising. All of us are constantly inundated with ads whether on Facebook, Instagram, television, surfing the web, or just driving your suburban town where billboards dart the highways.
Advertising’s entire goal is to get you, the consumer, to buy or use their product. It accomplishes that by indoctrinating you into the world of that product. I often joke about deodorant advertising for men such as Axe. Those ads not so subtly tell men, “If you use our product, more women will want to have sex with you.” All advertising in a way communicates to us, “you might be ok now, but you will be much better if you buy or use this thing we sell.”
Inevitably this leads to comparisons, the haves and have-nots or the old cliche “keeping up with the jones.” I’ve observed that most of us are status-obsessed, no matter what class we’re in, including myself. How can we not be considering the world we live in? We feel the need to keep up very subtly. In that way, advertising has a hold on our mental health, always making us feel not good enough or just a little more insecure.
Social media works in similar ways. The social media algorithm may be morally neutral but reinforces our desires and comparisons. It inevitably leads us to compare ourselves to our peers and judge them or ourselves, but unlike in the past, we don’t just compare ourselves to our peers, but to the entire internet. As I’ve said many times, that comparison is completely unrealistic, as you’re comparing yourself to a digital projection, not a real-life person.
But if we’re not careful, social media starts to make us feel small and not good enough. It makes us compare ourselves constantly. I know people who’ve hacked social media to be about wellness and therapy but even that has its consequences. Oftentimes that can lead to another ideal one can’t live up to. I heard one client say about a spiritual YouTuber they follow, that it made them feel worse to watch the videos because the YouTuber seemed so grounded and happy, while their life was so messy.