Social media lets us curate our avatars so that we only display the best versions of ourselves to others. This has resulted in a sort of social schizophrenia, whereby we are on intimate terms with our own shortcomings but see only the successes of our peers.
As Julie Scelfo writes in The New York Times, “Friends’ lives, as told through selfies, showed them having more fun, making more friends and going to better parties. Even the meals they posted to Instagram looked more delicious.”
The heightened sense of inadequacy that follows has been a source of anxiety and depression, driving some to thoughts—and acts—of suicide.
“Nationally, the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds has increased modestly but steadily since 2007: from 9.6 deaths per 100,000 to 11.1, in 2013… But a survey of college counseling centers has found that more than half their clients have severe psychological problems, an increase of 13 percent in just two years. Anxiety and depression, in that order, are now the most common mental health diagnoses among college students.”
Student bodies have developed a variety of terms for the experience.
“At Stanford, it’s called the Duck Syndrome. A duck appears to glide calmly across the water, while beneath the surface it frantically, relentlessly paddles.”
As each millennial suffers from the illusion that their peers are routinely outperforming them, they beat themselves up over every minor setback. Though they know remarkably well how to succeed, they don’t yet know how to fail.
Image idea: instagram pic of beautiful young people having fun, or a delicious home-cooked meal with a caption/comments on the side of jealous people. something pinterest-y.