Sometimes I like to write about struggles that I’m dealing with right now. One of these struggles doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but it can actually be consuming. Based on conversations I’ve had recently, the struggle affects many others too.
What is this struggle? Simply put, it’s comparing on Instagram.
As someone who is starting to use Instagram frequently to promote a group, this comparison is natural to do. I want to see what similar groups are doing so I can learn from them. In the process, I may notice how many people are responding to their posts, and do an instant comparison with my group.
But from a Christian perspective, this comparison crushes my ability to see God work through my group on Instagram.
To explain what I mean, I’m going to use a real life example. My friend Jenna leads a group that has an Instagram account with nearly 10,000 followers. I lead a group that has an Instagram account with just over 100 followers.
Now, looking at those numbers alone, I can think that Jenna has it “made” compared to me. My group’s account looks insignificant in comparison.
But in this pure number comparison, I’m leaving out consideration of at least three differences between our accounts:
1. Time of existence
Jenna’s account has been around for 3 years, while mine has been around for 3 months. Obviously, the longer an account has been around, the more opportunities there are for people to see and respond to it. Yet I tend to compare my account with accounts that have been around for years, which is ridiculous since it’s not a valid comparison.
2. Target audience
Jenna’s account targets a few different groups of people, including people who run their own business and people who do other creative ventures like blogging. My account targets a subset of a particular group of people – Christians who want to discuss deep topics. Jenna’s account will generally attract a wider range of people than my account will.
Jenna is very good at creating professional-looking posts and understanding what best appeals to others on Instagram. That expertise comes through in her account. I am “learning the ropes” of using Instagram – expertise will definitely take time to build up.
When considering all of these factors, I really have no basis to compare the sheer number of followers between Jenna’s account and my account. But it’s very easy to compare those numbers and downgrade what I’m doing as a result.
Now let’s step aside from that comparison. When I look solely at my group, I’m amazed by what God has done in it so far. I wouldn’t have expected a dozen people to be interested in it, much less over a hundred.
But my amazement fades as the desire for more comes in.
And anything less than what I see happening on other accounts results in disappointment.
This Instagram comparison I think parallels to other parts of our lives. We can often compare our status in life to the status of others, whether it’s about marriage, profession, or popularity. This comparing escalates when social media enters into the picture.
When the comparing happens, everything we do can seem like a disappointment. Our lives seem less fulfilled than the lives of those around us. And our ability to praise God for what he’s given us diminishes.
When I look at my group’s Instagram account, I should focus on the account itself – praising God for what he’s done through it so far. Then I can take action with a post, and trust God with whatever results from it. Whether one person or hundreds of people are helped by the account in some way, it’s worth it!
And then when I look at life, it’s the same thing. I should focus on my life – praising God for what he’s done in it. Then I can take action, trusting God with whatever he’s calling me to.
This is a hard mindset for all of us to strive for. But it’s one that will allow us to see God work in our lives. And it will increase our sense of amazement towards what he’s given us.