Envy, Connection, and the World of Social Media
This week I decided to delete my Facebook profile. Spring cleaning is in the air and social media is on the list of things to decrease out of my life.
I’ve had a personal Facebook account for several years; last year I worked a contract job where I managed a business Facebook and Twitter page. While I learned a lot participating in the online media realm, I’ve realized that it isn’t quite for me.
I love the fact that the Internet and social media allows us to communicate and connect with one another. The fact that we can reach someone on the opposite side of the world is pretty amazing. Data is being transmitted constantly, information is traveling at lightning speeds and online communities are continually being built. It is often overwhelming to try and keep up with all that is happening.
I personally thrive on community building and enjoy developing authentic relationships with others. However, something about constantly being behind a screen doesn’t feel quite right. It creates a barrier between you and the person or group of people with whom you want to connect.
Of course, if your family, friends or colleagues are out of town, the Internet provides an extraordinary vehicle for correspondence. However, when does the barrier become too divisive? When does complete connection turn into total detachment?
During my time on Facebook, I checked the newsfeed several times a day and probably posted, on average, three times a week. I considered myself an “average” user.
However, over the past few months, I started noticing the complete attachment I had to this website. In my spare time, I would be on there wandering aimlessly.
Even in my non-spare moments, when I should have been working on something else, I would again be perusing endless pages, links and profiles. I also found myself admiring my own profile, continuously looking through pictures that brought up happy memories and reviewing posts on my timeline.
I felt proud of all the things I announced and shared with the world. People’s personalities really shine through on their timelines.
I was, of course, the type who only boasted about all the great things going on in my life. I also would try to post witty one-liner attempts, hoping someone out there would “like” my subtle, direct and at times sarcastic style.
I started noticing that constantly watching others’ lives made me feel bad about mine. Every time I saw joyful photos of people in relationships, with their kids, or going on epic world travel journeys, it made me wish I could be doing the same thing. Every time someone made an announcement about their engagement, anniversary or birth of a child, I found myself feeling envy and jealousy.
I am usually happy for others when good things happen in their lives; however, I couldn’t shake off the comparison blues. I became fixated, self-absorbed, angry, and was often drowning in a hole of despair. Negative self-talk and thoughts permeated.
Why does person A, B and C get to have X, Y and Z and not me? I’m a hard worker, an honest person, and a faithful woman who doesn’t hurt other people, so why does it seem like my dreams have been completely crushed while everyone else is thriving? That’s when I realized it’s all a facade.
First, what people portray to the online world isn’t necessarily a reflection of what’s really going on behind the scenes. Second, if I’m spending so much time worrying about why other people’s lives are working out and mine isn’t, then I’m not really living. Third, I’m really not that great of a person and actually don’t deserve to have a bunch of great things happen at the wave of my command.
Perhaps there is a reason that A, B and C isn’t happening right now and X, Y and Z is. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have, maybe I should start being thankful for what I do have. And even though my dreams seem so far in the distance, impossible or unrealistic at times, maybe there is still a glimmer of hope out there. There’s probably a bigger dream to be had beyond what I could even imagine.
So instead of trying to control my life through a computer profile or a phone app and being envious of others, I’ve decided to step away, leave the phone at home and go for a walk. I invite you to take a break and do the same.
Bach, K. (2014). Envy, Connection, and the World of Social Media. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 4, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/13/envy-connection-and-the-world-of-social-media/