Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Digress

Is Life Just One Big Competition?


When I first joined Facebook, I was thrilled to be reconnecting with people I hadn’t heard from in years. Within days I was getting friend requests from people I had sleepovers with in elementary school and people who talked behind my back in high school. Within weeks I had an addiction worthy of a 12-step program. The more people I found and the more people who found me, the more time I wasted invested in it. And that’s when I realized it was all a competition.


Social networking is great. But is it just another method of highlighting our hidden feelings of inadequacy and exacerbating our need to show off?


My college freshman roommate has over 300 Facebook friends! She always did have more friends than me. That girl who was in all my AP classes in high school has 2 doctorates and just published a book! She always was smarter than me. That girl I swam with in college is a professional triathlete! Wait a minute, I used to kick her butt. Shouldn’t I be the one doing triathlons now? 


See what I mean?


Of course Facebook is a bit of a fantasy world. Is anyone really going to post in her status update that she’s bankrupt, her husband is cheating on her, and she’s addicted to painkillers? Not likely. We join Facebook not only to see how others have progressed in their lives, but also to paint ourselves in the best possible light to prove that we are happy, successful adults with happy, successful families.


Then there’s blogging. I’ve only been blogging for two months, but I’m beginning to sense an underlying competition. That blogger has over 300 followers! I’m not anywhere close to that level of readership. Look at all the flair on that blog! My blog looks plain and boring. That blogger gets 30 comments every day! I’m lucky if I get 5.


I’m competitive by nature. I can’t help it, I was an athlete. But I hate that I bring that competitive nature to arenas where it doesn’t belong. I try not to compare my children to other kids their age. But that child is reciting the alphabet, and he’s 2 months younger than Little C! Maybe I should enroll her in tutoring. But my neighbor can afford the uber-preschool with the mile-long waiting list! Maybe I should sell my liver. But that couple across the street has the perfect marriage! Maybe I should…Oh wait, aren’t they getting a divorce?


Competition is the ubiquitous elephant in the room. It’s squeezed in between the stacked blocks at playgroups. It’s lurking in the perfectly trimmed bushes in our neighbor’s manicured lawn. It’s mocking us in Facebook status updates. And yes, it’s quite possibly the subliminal messages hidden within our blog posts.


What do you think about all this competition?

Do you think blogging contains an element of competition?

What can we do to avoid it?





19 comments:

  1. I think it does if you let it. But I don't know how to stop it. I look at blogs with lots of comments and admit to feeling a little jealous. I just tell myself I'm doing it for me not the comments.

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  2. WOW! My husband and I were just downstairs working out and I swear to you I said..."I wish people could just be satisfied with what they have instead of constantly trying to have more or be more." I have that same competitive streak you mentioned, and I wish sometimes I didn't. Are there twelve-step programs for that? If so, sign me up! I enjoy your writing by the way:)

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  3. Face book is like being in high school all over again same competitive spirit. When I started I felt that way who is doing better then who, and then I realize it’s a front, we never know what is happening behind those closed doors. I’m not so into FB anymore the trill is over I can care less. Blogging is more real for me, I can really express myself and then go back and see my state of mind in any giving day, it’s a way to” just do you”

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  4. "Is anyone really going to post in her status update that she’s bankrupt, her husband is cheating on her, and she’s addicted to painkillers?"

    I've seen it, no lie.

    I know what you mean about competition, though. I don't know how you get out of it, but at some point I just decided not to care anymore. I've seen old blogs and new blogs with more and less followers and commenters than me. I swear, there is no method to the madness, so I've just chosen to ignore it.

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  5. Think competition brings out the best in us, but sometimes you just have to walk your own path and tune other people out.

    Facebook has it Pros, but I can see how one can constantly see how they stack up to others in their network.

    You might be interested in the new fictional book, "Facebook Addiction: The Life & Times of Social Networking Addicts."

    Amazon Reviews: http://www.TheFacebookAddiction.com/links/retail/amazon
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  6. I am not a competitive person -- I so much prefer to support others. That's my biggest motivation when it comes to comments. You'll never catch me leaving negative comments on someone's blog or facebook. I like collaboration and really try to cheer my friends on -- sure it's super fun to know I did a great job at something, but I can know I gave it my all and still acknowledge someone else's talent in the same breath.

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  7. Well ... Life is a competition ... everything we do to an extent is about achieving a desired result ... and usually, it's one that lands us on the top of the pile rather than the bottom. For the blogging world, IDK, I think it depends- there are some people who want to grow their spots and others who plod along at will ... if that makes sense ... but yeas, I do see that you have more followers than I and I'd love to know the secret :-)

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  8. I do think there is an element of competition in life and it is up to the individual to either decide to compete or not. And, I think either way of living is fine as long as it is authentic to who you are.

    I can be very competitive and I try to let go of that competiveness when it does not serve me well but, I try to embrace it when it makes me strive to do better.

    Just my two cents (if it is even worth that!!)

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  9. I shy away from competition of any sort! Controversy too!

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  10. I decided to abstain from FB, only to have old friends come out of the woodwork and friend me. So of course I had to log in to check out their profile and chat with them. I was sucked into the games for a while- that was a big waste of time!
    It doesn't feel competitive to me- but it does feel like high school at times. Sometimes I want to say "save your drama for your mama"- but I try to keep my mouth shut. Some people get really offended if not enough people reply to their posts- really?
    I am like blue violet- I don't like competition or controversy (unless I know whomever I am talking with feels the same as I do- I am a big weenie!)

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  11. Facebook is like one big fake High School reunion except you can lie more because nobody really sees you. Did I mention that I don't even have a FB account? I was never one to be competitive just like some people said up there...but I thought it first! (-:

    Yeah, I don't have that much energy to compete. My husband on the other hand will happily go to his death to win a staring contest or some "gotcha last" nonsense. I guess opposites do attract. I miss Paul Abdul. Sorry, I don't have much of an attention span either.

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  12. You know, I've both written and seen some pretty awful things people have posted as status updates. I can understand how it can be a competition on FB.

    Thankfully, I don't think blogging is the same way, although I suppose some people may think so.

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  13. I'm competitive too. I got excited when I joined Facebook, but now, I'm just not that in to it since I've started blogging.

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  14. Great post and so true! I had wondered about some of those things... just didn't say them outloud. lol.. I was addicted to facebook a year ago, got lots of my friends addicted and now the piffed because I'm hardly ever one anymore.. except to put my Blog post on! :-) I love writing and blogging a lot more! & I've only been doing it for 2 months also. ~ Coreen

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  15. This is a great post! I am the total opposite. I am probably not competitive enough. I have a 'whatever' kind of attitude with these things. I do see it everywhere though. How many friends you have on Facebook and all. I just don't get it. I refuse to friend someone that I hardly know or that I really don't care to be back in touch with. Anyone who is not really a friend, is not going to be my "friend" in Facebook either. FB is like high school all over again. I think of it kind of like being at a reunion as a fly on the wall. Blogging too, I am new to the world of blogging but yes, I see the whole popularity thing going on here too. How many followers and comments. I never in a million years knew that even existed until recently. I can see how someone can get really caught up in that, but I guess you have to remind yourself what you really want out of your blog. Sure, comments are great because why else are we blogging? But, as far as the number of followers, does that matter all that much? Not too many of them actually read it anyway. It is just a number and we really shouldn't get all caught up in that. Those are my thoughts for the day ;)

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  16. So true. I was all over FB when I first "joined", but I too have lost interest. Over it. Done.

    As far as competetive blogging, it's definitely out there. I just blog about my family and our lives and don't care to have 10 million followers. There will always be people that try to constantly one up you, and I just let them do it. Ha ha!

    Love your blog by the way!

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  17. Hilarious! So this morning I was walking my daughter to the bus stop and another parent said she was thinking of getting her 1st grader tutoring in the summer so she wouldn't forget everything she learned. My 1st thought was "that's silly" until I remembered I had that same fear 3 years ago! Thankfully a friend reminded me that as a kid, I hadn't forgotten everything every summer either....so my advice is to keep sane friends around who can bring you back to planet Earth!!
    :-)!
    Swati

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  18. Hello. I was addicted to facebook when I first joined meeting up with all those old friends and I was delighted......but the years have passed and we have nothing in common and the meeting back up wears off and there you are...lots of FB friends that dont mean as much to you as thought to be!
    With that in mind, I next join twitter and have met a great group of women and just have fun.
    Life is always going to be a competition of somesorts, "Keeping up with the Jone's"
    In fact Friday Follows is a way to get more followers on your blog - competition!
    BTW I am a Navy Mom and appreciate all your husband does and please thank him for me!
    my blog if you are interested: http://herroyaljoaness.blogspot.com/

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  19. I use facebook only to play a game I enjoy. I have reunited with a couple old high school friends that I lost contact with and that was cool, but I dont worry about how many friends I have opposed to so & so.

    Same with my blog, I have been blogging for several years. It was a way for me to keep track of my couponing, recipes and deals I wanted to do. I love the followers and comments, but I dont have tons of either. My point being is I didnt blog and concentrate on getting a huge number of followers and comments. I blogged for a need of my own and to hopefully share information with others. I've had others try to make it a competition with me and those people are the ones I quickly avoid.

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