How Social Media Users Are Impacted By The Paradox of Choice

According to author Mark Manson in his incredible book The Subtle of Not Giving A F*ck, the paradox of choice is a phenomenon in which the more options we are afforded, the less happy we end up being with our selection.

Since its sprout in popularity in the early 2010s at the advent of the smartphone, social media has exposed us to a lot of choices. More than any other epoch in human history, we are exposed to such a diverse pool of choices about, well, everything. From different choices for lifestyles, different choices for definitions of"success", "happiness" etc, social media has turned users into metaphorical children in a candy shop, spoilt for choice.

The problem with the prevalence of choice on social media is that, just like the metaphorical children in a candy shop, it becomes difficult for people to be satisfied with what they have because there always seem to be so many better options out there. That is the paradox of choice.

Visual representation of the "Paradox of Choice"

From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter, social media sites constantly remind users that there is so much better out there that they should be striving for. It is like the sites' algorithms serve to stir people's intrinsic jealousy traits, constantly reminding them how far behind their peers they are.

This then creates an insatiable desire dynamic whereby people never feel like they are doing enough. J.Cole puts it perfectly in his song "Love Yourz", rapping:

Always gon be a bigger house somewhere
Always gon be a whip that's better than the one you got
Always gon be some clothes fresher than the ones you rock

Lupe Fiasco also perfectly encapsulates this insatiable desire dynamic on "Words I Never Said", rapping:

You get it then they move it, so you never feel like you keeping up enough
Of course, an optimist might translate this constant "you could be doing so much better" social media dynamic into motivation to strive to always do better but the problem is that, eventually, with time, you are going to burn out if you are never feeling like you keeping up enough.

The "hey look, my life is better than yours" environment that is prominent on social media is, as one would guess, extremely detrimental to people's mental health as evidenced by the surge of mental health issues since the rise of popularity of social media.

To escape this hamster wheel rhetoric of the insatiable desire dynamic caused by social media, it is important to realize that our lives are not and should not be defined by standards set by fictional characters who reside in the apps on our little lightboxes. To again quote the great Jermaine Cole, always remember, there is "no such thing as a life that's better than yours".


  1. Great read, and it's so true. Ga se gore mme we should all just quit social media once 😅

  2. I think as well as trying to be content, and not comparing ourselves to people on the airwaves- we should understand gore corporations have struck advertising gold when it comes to social media. They play on our insecurities/unhappiness to try and get us to consume and consume.


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