In a long-running television advert a Welshman, pretending to be Italian, advertises ‘GoCompare’ who will provide the best price for car insurance, home insurance or other financial services. I’m not surprised that it was voted the most annoying advert two years running!
We play ‘Go Compare’: Someone tells their story. Someone else then tells theirs, describing how their experience was more enjoyable, exciting, expensive, scary or funny. In our family we call it the ‘Singapore Syndrome’. Some years ago we had friends who, whatever story was told, would tell a ‘better’ one that started, ‘When we were in Singapore…’
Students and teachers, nurses and patients, accountants and investors, church-goers, car-owners, runners, pub quiz enthusiasts… Whatever our occupation, hobby, interest or passion we can play ‘Go Compare’…
Older people play ‘Go Compare’: ‘My childhood was more deprived/different’; my career was more exciting/unusual; ‘my illness/hospital experience was more dramatic’; ‘my religious/political views are more valid/important/correct. And they shout louder because they become both literally and metaphorically more deaf.
Social media shows pictures of families, holidays, dinners, parties, pets, present…; intentionally or unintentionally they play ‘Go Compare’ with their possessions, relations or experiences.
For many the ‘Go Compare’ competition leads to feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction, frustration, anxiety, or depression.
As people with faith, people wanting to improve, or just trying to survive we can recognise the wisdom of St Paul:
‘I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want…’
The problem is, playing ‘Go Compare’, we identify more with American president, Theodore Roosevelt, who said ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’…
…to be continued