Style or Substance?

This one goes out to the normals!
Am I the only one who sees those motivational pictures of someone hanging on to a cliff with the tagline of “Hold On For Success” or some other cheesy cliché and think “Who on Earth finds this shallow crap motivating”? It can’t be just me, there are others right?
Personally I prefer (where the featured picture comes from) who make demotivators I can actually relate to. They are much more relevant to real life, and I defy anyone who has worked in some form of corporate world (or probably any environment with middle managers who think they are executives) for more than five minutes to not find some reality in it. The sad thing is exactly that – it’s reality. Reality cannot be fixed with high fives or a motivational poster. Reality can only be impacted by human connection, and when it happens it is truly life changing.
But this is where we get to the actual meat of the problem. People aren’t concerned with reality anymore. Reality is hard. Reality takes time. Reality takes being vulnerable, and that is one step too far for most people. The sad thing is that too many people putting too much effort into looking good, playing the game that makes things look like they are going well, and they are afraid to show the cracks.
This happens most often in social media, and it is harming us. When people use social media most people want to present the positive side of their life and the exciting things that are happening. This gives people watching the impression that life is a bed of roses for that person. When you have 100, 200, 500 or more people seemingly on their eighth week of a three-day trip and you are sitting at home eating Ramen (or Pot Noodle in the UK) it’s hard not to wonder where you went wrong. There are articles at the bottom that talk about the dangers of upward comparison (basically, comparing yourself to the things your friends want to show about their wonderful lives on social media), and rumination (mulling over the deficits in your own life compared to the lives of others).
Here are the three take aways for today:
1 – Make the decision to value substance over style. This doesn’t mean exposing your darkest secrets to everyone you meet, it means being honest with yourself about who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, and being unafraid to be vulnerable.
2 – Remember that what you see your friends post on social media is a snapshot. OK, for some of the people you follow it may be a live stream of their life, but it is still a managed forum where you only see what they want you to see.
3 – Create your own goals and take steps to achieve them. Don’t compare your success to the success (perceived or otherwise) of others. Compare your success to the goals you want to achieve for yourself and I guarantee that while you are taking steps to meet your goals you will feel better about yourself.
And if all else fails, just pop along to and you will soon realise that you’re not alone – other people get it.
If you enjoyed this article please give a like and check out other articles at
Appel, H., Gerlach, A. L., & Crusius, J. (2016). The interplay between Facebook use, social comparison, envy, and depression. Current Opinion in Psychology9, 44-49.
Feinstein, B. A., Hershenberg, R., Bhatia, V., Latack, J. A., Meuwly, N., & Davila, J. (2013). Negative social comparison on Facebook and depressive symptoms: Rumination as a mechanism. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 2(3), 161–170.
Vogel, E. A., Rose, J. P., Roberts, L. R., & Eckles, K. (2014). Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 3(4), 206–222.
Zuo, A. (2014). Measuring up: Social comparisons on Facebook and contributions to self-esteem and mental health.

2 thoughts on “Style or Substance?

    1. It is interesting to see how many people post things just to get the likes and feel appreciated. I think it is possibly the case that the more someone posts how great life is, the more they are seeking validation.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.