By Anna Tabet |

Snapchat—the home of cute night-out pics and cringey videos of your friend’s cousin’s girlfriend Samantha. Although Samantha deserves a platform, those quirky videos are not what fascinate me most about the app and other social media apps like it.

If I went to my Instagram right now, I’d probably see a perfectly posed picture of someone in a field of flowers, truly feeling the “spring vibes.” I’d scroll up a bit more and would click on a story of someone else having a perfectly cut club sandwich for lunch. I’d then mosey on down to Snapchat, where a friend posted arguably too many videos from that Ed Sheeran concert last night.

It’s incredible being able to see all these little tidbits of our friends’ lives; and yet, how much of what we see on a daily basis is truly unfiltered?

Social media has become a competition of who is better at making their life look perfect. It has gotten to the point where every moment you’re doing something notable needs to be captured as proof that you’re enjoying your time more than your followers. I mean, did it really happen if no one saw it?

A platform that once began as a place to memorialize and share experiences has morphed into a contest of who is really having the best Friday night.

Listen, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m some social media goddess that only posts true, thought-provoking content. But I do think it’s important to let people know that it’s OK to be experiencing something exciting and not feel the need to exploit it. There are some moments in life that deserve to be showcased, but a problem arises when you post a picture only to prove to others that you’re having, what the kids call, a “lit time.”

This showboating culture has bolstered the egos of those succeeding in this competition while making those who don’t participate feel less than. I’ve spent enough nights feeling like a real loser while witnessing the wild times my friends were sharing on their Snapchat stories to validate this point. It’s never fun to feel like you’re doing something wrong when you’re just not living your life in the same way as those around you.

So what can you do to avoid falling into this competitive trap?

I’m glad you asked.

Before you post a picture, question if you’re posting it because it makes you happy. If it does, decide if that happiness comes from the image itself or from how the image will make you look to your followers. If it’s the latter, maybe hold off on posting it and instead search for media that truly represents you in a way you’re proud of.

Ultimately, this compulsion to compete with your peers over who looks like they’re having more fun isn’t beneficial for anyone. It also makes those who spend their time differently than the vast majority feel like they are in the wrong. Yes, I spend arguably too much time watching tiny kitchen cooking videos, but they’re entertaining and I like them. Plus I never knew a donut could be that small.

In a time of constant competition, a place people should feel free to genuinely express themselves and commemorate their experiences is social media. Stop basing your self worth on whether or not your followers believe that your life is perfect and instead work on things that are actually preventing it from being so. If anything, live in the moments you’re experiencing because validation from Snapchat friends won’t ever truly equate to self-acceptance.