Do you ever feel worse about yourself after scrolling through Facebook or Twitter? Does it seem as though everyone is leading a life better than your own? It’s all too easy to get jealous of others on social media. Vacation photos, engagement announcements, wedding shoots – it can be enough to make you seriously envious.
Symptoms of social media envy
So what are the symptoms of social media envy? The main clue is an overall drop in mood. You might feel empty after reading some particularly upbeat posts from a friend or relative. You may also feel compelled to read through all their posts, or flick through all their photo albums. Even when you feel jealous, it’s as though you can’t look away. On some level, you might even enjoy using their posts as a stick with which to beat yourself. Within minutes, you can spiral downwards into a pit of self-loathing and despair. You might also feel bad for feeling jealous. After all, shouldn’t you feel happy for others?
Humans are inherently competitive
It may help to understand how this phenomenon arises in the first place. Humans are inherently social creatures who like connecting with others, but we are also a competitive species. The truth is that most of us enjoy showing off to some extent. The inevitable outcome is a society of people who tend to take every opportunity to show the world just how great they are, and how well their lives are going. Unfortunately, it is hard to remember this when you are browsing Facebook, and this is where the problems start. According to a study carried out at the University of Copenhagen, we start to feel envious when we compare our everyday lives with other people’s highlight reel – which is all social media really is. When you fall into the trap of compar ing your private self with other people’s public personas, you are bound to feel inferior!
Jealousy is like real pain
Why is a jealousy a problem? It might feel like a mere annoyance on a day-to-day level, but the effects can accumulate over time. According to a piece research published in the journal Science, envy and physical pain make use of the same regions in the brain. It actually hurts to feel jealous, and it can become a bad habit. Over time, you can become a bitter person who is too busy overanalyzing their own shortcomings rather than living life.
So what can you do to combat social media envy?
Remove boastful people from your friends list
If you follow people who make a point of showing off at every available opportunity, unfollow or delete them. Boastful people are rarely good friends anyway. If you still want to keep in touch with them, stick to text or instant messenger instead.
Don’t be afraid to mention good things in your own life
If you have some good news to share, spread the positivity! There is nothing wrong in acknowledging your achievements and highlights on your profile. It’s only when it is done to excess or to make others jealous that you need to re-evaluate your behavior. Other people might have good lives, but chances are that you have great moments too. You could also set up a private profile that only you can view. Make this private profile as positive or even as boastful as you like. It sounds silly, but it could be a good self-esteem boost.
Limit social media time
The simplest way to avoid succumbing to envy is to limit the amount of time you spend reading other people’s posts. Never allow yourself to waste hours looking longingly through a feed or photo album. Set yourself a reasonable time limit per day, and stick to it.
Use social media to connect, not compare
Social networks are designed for positive interactions, not pointless and unhealthy comparisons. Keep your focus where it belongs. Take a genuine interest in other people’s activities, lives, and opinions rather than running yourself down by making it into a competition.
You don’t have to give up Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms entirely. They are great tools for staying in touch with others. However, in order to combat jealousy, you need to keep a balanced perspective and be willing to take a step back when necessary.
|BBC News: Facebook Lurking Makes You Feel Inferior
|HuffPost: Jealous Of Friends? How To Put Your Envy To Good Use