Social media has become a huge part of our society, whether you are looking for the most up-to-date news or what your 10th grade ‘best friend’ had for dinner, the images and information is there. It is there to obsess over, it is there to tell us what is going on in the world and it is there to remind us what we don’t have that someone else does. It is called Social Media Envy. It is real thing.
At some point in our time with Facebook, I am sure we have logged on to see photos of our “friends” taking incredible trips, buying big beautiful houses, new clothes or a fancy new car. We think to ourselves, “Oh man, I wish I had that!” Here is the thing, the type of posts you see can generally be put into one of two categories:
#1: The Bragging Post– New houses, vehicles, clothing, promotions or job changes, lavish trips, selfies (because obvi- I look amazing!), baby/children (they are the cutest/ best at whatever sport/smartest/ etc.)
#2: The Attention Seeking Post– “I had a terrible day!”(because I want people to ask me so I can feel important but won’t answer them), “New workout routine!!” (meanwhile they are skinny models who just want to be told I am socially accepted and beautiful), the natural me selfie (looking for reassurance that they are attractive in their “natural” way even though they still have make up on), Ranting/venting posts ( everyone is entitled and should agree with their opinions, right?) and the ever so classic passive aggressive posts that are about an unnamed individual (sorry, are we supposed to care?)
As annoying as the attention seeking posts may be the bragging posts seem to have a significant psychological effect on us. A University of Pittsburgh study determined those who frequent social media multiple times per day have higher credit card debt and lower credit scores. Social media envy creates a need for us to compete with our virtual circle, so we buy things to make ourselves feel worthy and accepted.
“Keeping up with the Jones'” does not mean our next door neighbours like it did 25-30 years ago, it means your family, your friends from primary school/middle school/ high school, university, your past jobs, people from your church, sports teams, volunteering organizations, etc…etc…etc…etc, are all the people who you need to compete with.
It isn’t always easy to remember but photos are only a snap shot, they are not a true representation of real life. Most of us don’t want to expose or remember when our house was a mess, when we were having a ‘fat day’ or when we were struggling financially. We certainly don’t want others to have negative images of us as the snap shot of ours lives. The social media world creates a high degree of competition without exposing the true circumstances (i.e.: debt, unhappiness) or sacrifices our glamorous Instagram superstar had to endure to create that “perfect life” we all see.
The Jones family has just gotten bigger by going virtual. Does social media create envy or jealousy in your home? How do you manage those feelings?