How Can We Dial Down the Toxicity of Social Comparison?

How Can We Dial Down the Toxicity of Social Comparison?

Filters are fun, right? Cat ears, animated avatars, glittering and shimmering… it’s all just a good time. But what happens when that good time morphs into a dopamine driven obsession?

Studies have proven that every time you see your number of "likes" or "followers" increase, your brain releases dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel happy.

This is all well and good until people start to live for this feeling.

There are only two industries that refer to their customers as 'users': illegal drugs and software. " — Edward Tufte

Folks have been known to delete photos or statuses that haven't "gained enough engagement" within a handful of minutes. They use analytics to monitor peak internet usage and never post anything outside of the times when most people log on. Worst of all, they become devastated when strangers on the internet have anything negative to say about their latest post.

Social media is capable of bringing out the worst in us, and is part of the reason why the digital landscape has become so toxic...

But social media usage wasn't always the plot of a dystopian horror story… so how did things become so radically different?


I am blue
Photo by Adrian Swancar / Unsplash

A cultural phenomenon called social comparison, is the desire of people to look toward their peers for validation.

Hypothesized by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954, this social phenomenon helps people figure out what they “should” be doing to stay similar enough to people in their vicinity.

Before the Internet, social comparison manifested itself in society by looking at your neighbor’s car to see how much “better” or “worse” it was than yours, or starting a trend of home renovations by building a sun-room or installing a duck pond.

You looked at the people surrounding you to determine whether you were keeping up with the norms of society.

brightly colored houses road
Photo by park dasol / Unsplash

However, when billions of people have digital windows living in their pockets, the concept of “neighbors” takes on a whole new meaning.

Our perception of who we need to compare ourselves to in order to be seen as “normal” has rapidly shifted from John and Sara down the street to vast swarms of people we follow, including influencers and celebrities.

The need to compare what “we” are like and what “they” are like has skyrocketed since the start of the digital revolution.

We are no longer comparing ourselves to people who live in the same neighborhood, go to the same school, or attend the same church. Instead, anyone with a smartphone becomes connected to us like a “neighbor.”

We can see our “neighbors” digitally modifying their photos so much that it’s impossible to tell where reality ends and the “enhancements” begin. We see them posing for pictures in front of rented mansions and borrowed sports cars to give an impression that such extreme wealth belongs to them. Some will also go to the extreme of buying fake followers to show popularity and clout.


Social media allows us to handpick the bits and pieces of our lives we want the world to see, but if we could see a bird’s eye view, it would likely show a multidimensional life story…

We’d understand that someone’s Rolex tells us nothing about their crushing debt.

We’d understand that flawless family photos taken on a gorgeous beach tell us nothing about the raging dysfunction just out of frame.

We’d understand that an undercurrent of messy relationship drama is eerily absent from a beautiful slideshow of a couple’s anniversary dinner.

This embellished view of ourselves creates a false sense of reality for everyone who sees those embellishments. In turn, onlookers are inspired to produce a curated representation of themselves "just to keep up."

This cycle continues and amplifies social comparison to far extremes.

So how can we exit this hamster wheel of superficial validation without quitting all of social media cold turkey? How can we re-imagine what it means to socially connect and interact online?


The desire for human connection is an innate part of the human experience.

While traditional social media is great for "media" purposes i.e. entertainment, news and following brands, what many of us really crave is a haven where we can be ourselves and where genuine social interactions can also take place.

A place where there’s no pressure to increase the “production value” of the thoughtful content you make, simply because everyone is there for the ideas and conversations, not over-the-top props, costumes, or professionally edited videos fit for CNN or Fox News.

A place where you gain followers because people are interested in the same things as you, enjoy listening to your perspective, and want to foster a genuine human-to-human connection.

A place where we can participate in an authentic manner, document our real life and create meaningful social memories with groups that interest us, friends, and loved ones.

A place to create and safeguard our real life stories and legacy.

That place is TapeReal.

People sat on a wall - Shoes and Converse
Photo by James Baldwin / Unsplash

This is the atmosphere TapeReal is committed to providing people like you; people who nod their heads in agreement as they read through articles like this and realize just how warped social media has become.


The social experience that TapeReal provides is much closer to real life, especially when compared to platforms whose digital landscapes have turned into a breeding ground for insecurity and crushed self esteem.

On TapeReal, folks aren’t afraid to show authentic representations of who they are by pulling pieces from both the wins and losses of life.

Yes, most of the internet has made it too easy to get wrapped up in the obsession that comes with social comparison, but you can take a much deserved break from that with TapeReal.

You can use TapeReal to dial down the toxicity of traditional social media platforms we have come to know and love.

You can express yourself freely, with real life stories.

You can create with the desire to connect, not curate.

You can document your life like a living biography of your thoughts and social memories... safely, securely, and in an ad-free experience.

We are re-imaging social media for future generations...

We invite you to be a part this journey.

TapeReal - A New Social Network for the Future.