I’m Watching Your Highlight Reel (There’s No Win in Comparison)

There’s a lot of opinions on the various forms of social media that we have. I’m sure we all have ’em – I know I do – and though I pick and choose those networks that I want to be a part of, I think there’s something that we can find in common with each of them:

They all let us know how well other people are doing and we’re implicitly comparing and contrasting ourselves against those people’s accomplishments even when we know that we’re doing it.

Another way of putting it (and I can’t give attribution because I don’t know who said the original quote) is this:

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.

Now, I don’t know if, in development, we struggle with insecurity per se, but perhaps we struggle with some type of lack of ability or this notion that we’re falling behind or that we are behind (and maybe all that is is insecurity).

Similarly, we also hear a lot of people talking about imposter syndrome and the effects that this takes on not only their work lives, but their daily lives, as well.

But I’ve also heard another quote that I really like and that I think is relevant, as well:

There’s no win in comparison.

I’m not really into armchair diagnosis so I don’t know what you’d call whatever it is that we each experience, but I’ve been on the Internet the know the following:

  • There are always people who are smarter than you
  • You always have the ability to help someone else
  • Other people will always try to bring you down
  • You have the ability to always try to praise someone for the work that they’re doing

I know, I know. This sounds like some type of greeting card or some type of stationary that you’d ship to someone whenever they’re feeling down – that’s not my intent, though.

Rather, it’s just to say that whenever it comes to that feeling (whatever that feeling is), I know it. And many others do, too.

I know that feel. We all do.

Here’s the funny thing: It’s one thing to be able to sit back and look at the things that we’re doing that are causing us some type of grief in our lives – and minor grief in comparison to what many go through on a day-to-day basis – and complain about it, but it’s a whole other thing to actually do something about it.

If there’s someone who’s no longer inspiring you, but who is irritating you, then stop following them.

For one reason or another, this is something that takes far more willpower than than it would suggest. Case in point: Think about your Facebook feed, Twitter timeline, your RSS feed, or your buddy list on AOL (if you even still have that ;), and then think about the number of things you read from people who irritate you.

Why do we bother putting up with that?

Clearly, I love the Internet and many things – though not all – that come with it. I love that I’m able to make a living off of it, and that I’ve met incredibly, incredibly talented people with whom I get to interact with each day.

But that level of satisfaction with the Internet comes at the expense at pruning those who do more harm than good to what I want to pay attention to whenever I’m working at my desk for several hours on end.

So unfriend, unfollow, block, step out of the chat room, or just take a short break from whatever it is that may be causing you irritation over satisfaction.

It’s much better and I know I’d much rather be hanging out with other people who are happier, anyway.

13 Replies to “I’m Watching Your Highlight Reel (There’s No Win in Comparison)”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Recent I watched a video that was a lot like this and the way the guy described it made sense. When you look at it in a different aspect, why would you let people dump garbage into your life.

    I only recently started following you but when you answered my Twitter question about feeling afraid to ask questions I knew that you were going to be a great person to follow. I really enjoy your articles and what you have to say. Thanks for the post.

    Here’s the video I mentioned. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inGi9MlKD1k

    1.  I only recently started following you but when you answered my Twitter question about feeling afraid to ask questions I knew that you were going to be a great person to follow.

      Had no idea, but I’m glad it worked out! I think that we could do a lot better at answering one another’s questions rather than chastising one another for it. 

      And thanks for the link to the video. I’ll try to find a few minutes to check it out.

  2. Hey Tom,

    This is a fantastic post. I don’t have a ton to add to it right now but want to let you know how deeply is resonates with me and who I choose to live my life online. Which, even though i make software, is in a minimal way. I’m so conflicted about it all…..


  3. There’s no win in comparison.

    That’s an awesome quote, Tom. That’s definitely something that I need to take to heart. I struggle with comparing my skills to those of other people. Instead of comparing myself to them, I should work on improving myself to be just as good as them. Or better than them in my own way. People don’t really criticize me. I do. I’m my own worst critic. I have expectations of what I feel I should be. And I always feel like I don’t meet them. I really need to work on not pressuring myself. Thanks for the post! You’re an inspirational person that I intend to follow and learn from.

  4. Interestingly, I recently saw a trend called #21daysofnormal where people (mostly parents of small children as that’s my current demographic) tried to counter the “show reel” trend by posting spontaneous, honest pictures of what their house/car/garden actually looked like at a given time of day.

    My friend introduced this as:

    “to counteract what we mostly post on fb…glamourous, instagrammed photos of the little special bits of our lives, which can inadvertently make us feel inadequate or that the rest of our lives don’t match up…here is ‪#‎21daysofnormal‬”

    There’s also a guy I know who hosts “Failure SwapShops” at conferences, which I think is a genius idea. Write up here: http://blog.justgiving.com/its-ok-to-fail/

    1. I recently saw a trend called #21daysofnormal where people (mostly parents of small children as that’s my current demographic)

      Just looked this up – you and I are in the same demographic and I really like that particular idea. Thinking about maybe hopping on the bandwagon and doing it for 30 days or something (just to say I did it for a month or something like that).

      Anyway, I’m checking out the Failure SwapShop, too.

      Thanks for these links.

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