Instagram is a love/hate app. I’m revamping Gram Crackers and have realized the frustration this app in particular is causing so many entrepreneurs. It has the potential to cultivate businesses and personalities and rocket them into the stratosphere, but the reality is that those success stories are few and far between. For the rest of us, we’re scrolling through an endless stream of feel-goodery and people who are clearly doing better than you at everything: dieting, exercise, running a business, finding inspirational quotes to post, whatever. How do you get past this and keep your head on your own paper?
Minimizing distractions, whether realistic or not (a la Instagram and Facetune filters), is not something that’s easily done, especially if you’re insecure about your place in the world. I wish I could give you some life lessons while wearing flowy linen pants and just say “don’t let it get to you” but that’s sort of like the advice for dealing with your high school bully, isn’t it? “Just ignore them” sounds great, but we’re all living here together and sometimes ignoring the distractions isn’t feasible. And yet, you’ve still got shit to do, so how do you get past this?
Here’s how I’ve learned to deal with the distractions:
Jar of Awesome
Keep your eyes on your own paper by celebrating every win or milestone you achieve. I’ve mentioned this so many times, but I love Tim Ferris’ “Jar of Awesome” method: Grab an empty jar and some post-it’s, write down any little progress, and put it in the jar. When you have a bad time, pull out your post-it’s from the Jar of Awesome and see how far you’ve come. We all get caught in the day-to-day bullshits of business and life, so to grab perspective on your progress will help you realize how many wins you’ve achieved on your own.
Be Genuinely Happy for Them, and a Little Sad
Very few people post the unfiltered version of their lives. We all want to be recognized for our successes, so we post them and look for validation. How many of us are talking about the $20k debt we’ve racked up trying to run our business or the grueling pace of holiday season sales? Realize that social media is designed to cultivate communities and communities are places to bond. It’s low-hanging fruit to celebrate wins (which, by the way, you should totally do!) and rare to commiserate on embarrassing setbacks. When you see a competitor living their best business life on social media, remember that you’re getting a filtered segment of what they need to show you to feel good about the progress. So look at their posts with a lens of understanding: they wanted to post a good thing, but behind it is a mountain of setbacks, sad times, and frustrations they can’t let out in the public eye.
Find a Place of Motivation Instead of Competition
I think this is for those who are the healthiest mentally, but it’s a good exercise for all of us. If you scroll across someone and feel a sense of envy or jealousy, take a moment to figure out where that’s coming from. Most likely, the first answer is something like “because it’s not happening to me” right? So take that pity party and turn it into the fuel that makes you want to get to work. And if you’re feeling really into it, leave a comment thanking them for the motivation to get back on pace to achieve that dream.
If You Still Want to Be Snarky, Do It In Your Brain
Look, at the end of the day, we’re all still humans trying to make our own way out there, so I won’t pretend that feelings of hurt and bitterness will just float away. Some days, we just want to have pity parties for ourselves and screw you for trying to make me be an adult about it. Just don’t ever use that as motivation to retaliate. Feel bad for yourself, then move on. Don’t take the opportunity to turn toxic competitiveness into public drama. No passive aggressive posts, no Instagram Stories about how some people are so shallow and thirsty for attention. It never looks good and can damage your brand.
Remember that social media is marketing and not real life. Focus on how you can utilize social media for your own advantages and stop allowing yourself to get distracted by what you perceive as other people’s’ perfect lives or businesses. (Also, shout out to the upcoming relaunch of Gram Crackers which will teach advanced Instagram marketing!)