How to Cure Yourself from Facebook Envy and Live Your Own Life
I am a person who was fortunate enough to live in a time when social media did not exist. If you went away on vacation, I was not treated to an hour by hour update on your shopping spree on Rodeo Drive or your luxury limo ride to your First Class seat on the jumbo jet headed for Cancun.
I did not need to see every croissant and baguette you ingested in France or every bagel and black and white cookie on your gastronomic tour of the Big Apple.
No, I only had to look at a brag book of photos that you carried around on the chance I would run into you.
In social situations, I learned how to avoid the braggarts who had the most brilliant children, the most important job, or the best home decorator. It was a learned skill, but one I used on an as needed basis. On Facebook, these people are hard to avoid unless you unfriend them (causing grown up issues similar to those you had in high school) or change your settings so you do not receive notifications from them in your newsfeed.
Social media such as Facebook has caused a whole new kind of psychological malaise called Facebook envy.
What Exactly is Facebook Envy?
Facebook envy is when you start to negatively compare your lives to the lives of your online friends. Instead of being happy for others, you seethe inside at how unfair it is that they have this seemingly fabulous life while you live one of drudgery. Just look at her gorgeous home, his new Porche or their talented children who have earned generous college scholarships. You spend hours stalking photos of others instead of living your own life.
Researchers have found in one study after another that many people, especially those in their 30's, have a negative experience after spending time on social media sites.
A new term has been created for this emotion called FOMO-Fear of Missing Out. It is a new social anxiety created by social media because people fear that they are not a part of some exciting event.
Is there a cure for Facebook envy? Yes, there is.
Remember That Facebook is Life Curated
Except on Facebook, virtually no one shares the bad, the difficult and the trying. Only the good times are shared.
For example, two years ago my family went to Disney World with my mom and my brother-our fourth trip in four years. It was our annual summer family reunion and we all looked forward to the time we spent together, especially since my brother lives in the Sunshine State and the rest of us do not.
Two months before that trip I learned of my daughter’s eating disorder and our lives spiraled out of control. She wanted no one to know, and therefore, no one did.
While I have never been one to post vacation photos, my daughter did post one of the five us in front of Cinderella’s castle, the typical happy Disney family portrait. She shared it and it appeared on my wall. There were dozens of likes and “lucky you” comments.
Yeah, right. The façade people saw was one of a happy family when we were living a parental nightmare. This trip was so unlike the previous ones we had taken. I was watching my daughter like a hawk to see if she would eat or look for the signs of the start of an anxiety attack if she could find nothing on the menu that would she would find satisfactory.
Yup, lucky me!
More Tips on Curing This New Social Ill
One Solution to Facebook Envy
On my own friend list, there is a man who is always out on the town with beautiful women in the swankiest clubs. Other men might envy his life, but I would not. He is the father of four children and is divorced from their mother. The children live a plane ride away and he only sees them a few times a year. Is that something to envy? Not in my book.
There is another person who goes out all of the time and has quite a fabulous life, at least in pictures. But, in reality, she is a fifty-three year old single woman who never married and had children. Is this something that I envy? No. Sure, I would love to go out with my husband more often, but I will take our at home movie nights with the kids over my friend’s life in a nanosecond.
Before you begin to feel the green eyed monster take over, ask yourself what exactly it is that you are feeling envious about. Is it that you do not get out as often with your significant other as you used to and would like to? Then get off your duff, book a sitter or find a family or friend to watch the kids and go!
Do you wish that you could go on vacation? Then save money any way you can so you are able to. Instead of wasting time looking at other's photos, get a second job, cut coupons, redo your budget...just find a way to make it happen!
Take Control of Your Friend List
If you find yourself annoyed by the constant bombardment of the updates and photos of certain people, it is okay to unfriend them. Just how important are they to you? Do you even see them in your real life?
People who make you feel bad about yourself are toxic and you do not need them in your real or virtual life.
Get Off Facebook
The Obvious Solution
How dependent are you on Facebook? If you spend hours a day looking at the lives of others and not living your own, perhaps it is time to pull the plug. Trust me, people of a certain age will tell you just how much simpler life was before we had to know exactly what you ate for breakfast.
While I personally love the connection to long distance family, seeing prom and graduation pictures of my friends’ children, and a good article that someone has shared for me to read, I have lived long enough to know that most of what is posted is pure fluff. I go days or weeks without checking in and when I do, most of the stuff on there is not relevant to me at all.
While Facebook envy is real, most of what you are envying is not. If you keep that in mind, then you can look at your friends’ statuses and pictures with a positive outlook instead of a negative one.