Curing the Deadly Disease of Online Envy

Curing The Deadly Disease Of Online Envy | Darling Magazine

It seems like just about everyone is taking center stage to engage the social world for lighthearted cyber play. After all, Facebook alone has more than one billion users—one seventh of the earth’s population! Twitter, MySpace, Blogger and Instagram are a few other popular platforms that have skyrocketed online communication…and for the better, right?

For someone like me with family and friends overseas, social networks provide a medium to swap photos and share status stories without a great deal of effort. And although society celebrates the likes of Facebook, in the same breath social media also comes under much criticism: it wastes our time, invades our privacy, and creates narcissistic people. Haven’t we all read countless articles reporting the negative effects of social media, both on individuals and society? We even hear murmurings suggesting that browsing social networks can bring out the green in some of us—fueling negative emotions of jealousy and envy.

In fact, an experiment at Stanford University yielded results revealing that some students felt worse when they thought their friends were having more fun than they were. Additionally, another study discovered that those who battle with envy in the context of social media typically tend to be the same individuals who struggle with measuring themselves to their peers in their day-to-day life.

What about you? Do you spend more time envying the lives of friends on Facebook, or enjoying your own life journey?

If you are allowing these glimpses of others’ cyber existences to get you down, or if you get agitated when someone posts a celebratory status or a photo album highlighting an exotic vacation, it’s possible that you have acquired the key killer of joy: envy. Fortunately, once you’ve self-diagnosed, you can stop blaming the things that contribute to symptoms of envy or jealousy, and take a deeper look at the root cause of your suffering.

Let’s quickly look at what we’re dealing with. Envy is a negative emotion produced by the awareness of the advantage, good fortune or prosperity of others; it can stem from insecurities that negatively affect our perceptions and self-esteem. Envy has enormous potential to cause other conditions: resentment, jealousy, anger, ill will, depression, and bitterness— just to name a few. And what is the eventual prognosis? Discontentment and dissatisfaction, which manifest either towards ourselves or others.

Is there a cure? Certainly, yes! To a large extent, the burden will fall on us to control unconstructive thinking and negative emotions. When you find social media envy creeping up on you, remember Darling’s six C’s to treat online resentments:

1. Compare ourselves to no one. Measuring our good looks, character, brains and achievements to someone else will only prove to be one thing—futile!

2. Don’t Compete. Rivalry with friends, family, or other women will only end in frustration.

3. End Criticism. Criticizing others simply serves to elevate ourselves and thus reveal our own insecurity. Be respectful of the opinions, choices and differences of others. Everyone is entitled to her own opinion, and this doesn’t mean you have to “like” it, agree with it, or for that matter comment on it at all.

4. Beware Covetousness. There will always be someone who seemingly has more or better than us. Celebrate the happiness, acquisitions and accomplishments of others— and of other women especially! Take every opportunity to give positive feedback, or show support. True friends openly express joy for the good fortune of each other.

5. Stop Conjecturing. Avoid judging others or making assumptions based on social media posts. We really don’t know the thoughts and motives of others, and we should not draw conclusions derived from frivolous online chatter. Let’s face it— our interpretation will not always be correct. Try to assume the best in others, rather than the worst.

6. Choose Contentment. To ward off envy, one of the finest remedies is to appreciate and show gratitude for what we do have.

Two things seem clear to me: social media does not create jealous, spiteful, or envious people; but rather, jealousy can be exacerbated by social media. And, when feelings of discontent or resentment are aroused by someone else’s good luck, how we react is up to us!

So the next time you sign-in, be reminded: we can chose to free ourselves from the negative effects of envy. We do this by choosing to be grateful, recognizing our own

value, and by rejoicing with others!

“It is in the character of very few men to honor without envy a friend who has prospered.” -Aeschylus

Darling, what is the art of being a woman? It begins with celebrating the achievements, joys and blessings of others.

Image via Vanessa Jackman

Kelly is from Victoria, BC, Canada and shares an enthusiasm for writing and has a passion for outdoor pursuits including rock climbing and mountaineering. Follow @hellokellyink as Kelly explores new adventures while currently residing in South Africa.

10 Comments

  • Reply April 9, 2013

    Susy

    I read something very helpful about envy/jealousy once. It said something to the effect of, “Jealousy is not a nice friend… but it IS loyal.” What they meant was that envy (obviously) is not a feeling to enjoy, but in a way, it reveals your heart’s true desire. So, it’s worth listening to, when you feel it. What is your envy really saying to you? I have always enjoyed this idea, and have used it to help me, in life.

    This is a great article, and so necessary, right now. I really applaud you for writing it. : )

  • Reply April 6, 2013

    Sophie

    This is a great eye opener considering the fact that we are all victims in one way or another. You have touched the most sensitive parts of some of us and I am grateful. its hard for a woman to take the time and energy to inform her fellow women on sensitive issues like this and this indicates pure love and care. Thanks.

  • Reply February 3, 2013

    Ali Madden

    This is a wonderful article. So happy you addressed this topic, spoke to me and I’m sure many others. Cheers!

  • Reply February 1, 2013

    Richie Rich

    Great article Kelly! It is very important to keep one’s life in perspective and focus on what is really important and deserving of one’s time and energy. :)

  • Reply February 1, 2013

    Rachel

    Thank you for this very inspiring piece. I certainly find that if I spend too much time online I can end up with a very long ‘wishlist’ of stuff that is pretty but I don’t need…a while ago someone posted a link, (on Facebook of course!) to a website where you can enter your household income and it tells you where you rank in terms of GLOBAL wealth. Now we are not wealthy…we have debts, we live in a rented home, we don’t always know how we are going to pay for an unexpected bill. But when i checked on this website (sorry I can’t remember what it was called!) we were in the TOP 4% of the world’s population. That’s 96% of the planet who have less than me.

    So if I’m ever going to compare myself, in those terms, to anyone – it will be to those who have no home, who can’t always feed their kids, who have far more pressing concerns than ‘can I afford to buy that lovely thing for my home?’, or even ‘can we afford to get the car fixed?’. We are so, so lucky. Let’s appreciate what we have, be grateful for it, and try to give a bit back in this world of such inequality.

  • Reply February 1, 2013

    Stacia

    Thanks for the wisdom Kelly. We all feel that way sometimes. It’s why I resolved to be more grateful and count my blessings everyday, either mentally or by hand on my journal. I think for the most part we just have to realize that every one is unique and therefore each lead different lifestyles. Perhaps some things look more valuable in the eyes of society at large, but when we stop comparing our lives with others’, we start to notice that more often than not, we are the ones placing value in our own life journey. I think this isn’t only happening within the realms of social media either – it’s happening all over the Internet! It’s much brutal in the blogosphere: http://bitchmagazine.org/article/better-homes-bloggers Hope the bitchmag article’s adding a wider perspective to this issue.

  • Reply February 1, 2013

    Gina

    Love this article. A great read. I’m inspired.

  • Reply January 31, 2013

    Kory

    This is seriously such a great post about social media. It may even be one of the best. When I checked my personal Facebook religiously I did find myself feeling these ways, but since I’ve deleted the account I can feel that I’m even just a little bit happier because I’m not putting myself down by comparing myself to someone else: in looks, in wealth, etc.

    Also, I think my favorite of your recommendations is to beware of covetousness. Sometimes when you and a friend are shooting for the same goals and only one person gets it, it’s very easy to resent the person who gained the money, opportunity, or whatever. However, you prove the strength in yourself and the friendship when you can put everything aside and simply be happy for the other person and what they have gained.

    • Reply September 14, 2013

      Kelly Sommer

      Thank you all for taking the time to comment so thoughtfully on this article!

  • Reply January 31, 2013

    Natalie Lynn Borton

    Love this, Kelly!! Thank you for sharing!

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