Why Your Social Media Envy May Be More Harmful Than You Think
Have you ever found yourself enviously scrolling over the feed of a friend, feeling sorry for yourself, and wishing that you either a) looked like her b) achieved as much as she did 3) had a family as perfect and happy as hers? 4) lived her life and not yours?
Don’t worry mama, you are not alone. You are one of the many women who beat themselves up daily over the pains of not doing, having, achieving, and being enough.
And who could blame us? We live in an age where we know way more about one another than any generation in history. To look over one’s fence and to wonder if the grass is truly greener on the other side has never been easier thanks to the numerous social media platforms we have at our fingertips.
We know the milestones, the mishaps, and the mundane details of the lives of people who might as well be strangers in our social media networks. We have commoditized our daily life choices–gramming, snapping, and sharing every moment of our lives hoping to get paid, or at the very least recognized for what we do. But all of this attention seeking, and in turn, social stalking often leads us to competing and thus comparing our lives to those of our peers. And that never feels good, does it?
Comparing ourselves to others does much more harm than we realize. Here are the dangers of comparison we may not know.
1. Comparison hurts yourself, and those you love. When we compare ourselves to others, we hurt ourselves by believing the lie that we are not enough. In our efforts to “keep up with the kardashians” often what happens is that we get stuck in an endless rat race that leaves us feeling empty, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled. Because the reality is that there will ALWAYS be someone prettier, richer, or smarter than ourselves, which means that there really is no finish line. And as this happens, we tend to feel dissatisfied with our own circumstances. We place the blame on our husbands, children, and even our parents, possibly making them feel as though they are “not enough” either. Here’s a classic example. A wife receives updates from her girlfriend about the numerous and expensive gifts that she receives from her husband. This wife’s envy leads her to fight with him, making him feel inadequate about what he earns. In her envy, she fails to consider the feelings of her innocent husband who may have been working hard to get a promotion to make her happy. The poor guy may have really just been a bystander in this disaster.
2. Alienating others. Interestingly enough, comparison, even though it implies an attention directed towards others–tends to bring one’s energies inwards instead of outwards. Suddenly life becomes about “me, me, me” in order to keep up with “she, she, she”. When we are constantly comparing, our actions and thoughts then become increasingly self-centered….alienating those who may even want to kill to be in our shoes. Those parts of our lives what we feel are “not enough” may be the unanswered prayers of our neighbor…and our unhealthy fixation on what we are lacking. Example: “My children are driving me crazy! 3 children is one too many!”…a woman might accidentally say in front of her best friend who is struggling with infertility. Or, “Ugh, we need to postpone our trip to Japan this year, because of a conflict in my husband’s schedule”…a complaint she might share with someone who can barely afford a local vacation. Comparison drives us inward, alienating those around us.
3. Failing to recognize the blessings that surround you. When we focus on what we lack, we fail to recognize the blessings that surround us. We fail to recognize and appreciate the sweet yet simple gestures of love from our husbands, the funny antics of our children, our stable jobs, and the modest but cozy homes we have over our heads. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “comparison is the thief of joy.” When we compare ourselves to others, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be grateful for all the good things we have going on in our lives, despite the challenges we are facing. We nitpick our our efforts, our achievements, and our loved ones only to end up unhappy.
So is it worth it? All that time we spend on our screens, watching the lives of others instead of living and enjoying our own?
Let’s strive to be more aware and discerning of our feelings, thoughts and emotions while we use social media. A solution may be to limit the time we spend on our screens, or to simply avoid profiles that provoke us completely. The good news for all of this is that our actions are within our control, and that it is just a matter of protecting ourselves from situations and habits that could lead us to harm…because the consequences of our actions could go beyond ourselves.