I read a very interesting article recently in The Guardian on the topic of social media and how envy is created around everyone’s seemingly perfect world, as usually portrayed on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
These types of articles always seem to be written as if we have no say in how we feel, that our emotions are involuntary reactions to what is going on around us. This is of course not so, and there will hopefully be many of you, especially those of you who have been on a Winning Edge Programme, who will be nodding along with me.
Everything always starts with a thought – random emotions do not just pop into our head without first us becoming aware of something, i.e. a new post on Facebook, we then process this and then we attach an emotion, depending on our own individual Mental Map and our unique value chain.
Why might we be feeling envious of posts we see on Facebook – or Farcebook as I like to call it because let’s face it, for a large proportion of it, people are only posting their highlights. There are very few people who will detail what a crappy day they’ve had, that they’re finances are in dire straits, how they’re marriage is heading down the pan and that their relationship with their kids is pretty dire. No, what we’ll see instead is some heavily filtered snaps en famille on holiday, with everyone smiling and laughing.
Psychologists interviewed for the Guardian piece discussed this notion of social media envy – people feel envious about what they’re seeing online because they want this lifestyle. They seek out Instagrammers who’ll give them tips on make-up application and hairstyle so that they can look different and perhaps feel better about themselves – the outside in approach as opposed to the tried and tested inside out method. They follow celebrities on social media – the rich and famous who seem to have it all. As the writer said, envy existed for centuries and was written about by Greek philosophers. Back in the days before social media, we’d be envious of the neighbours and they’re swanky new car or plush sofa but now, it’s in our face 24-7 and we know globally what kind of life people lead and what they have.
Who is creating these feelings of envy? The Instagrammer? The Facebook poster? Neither. We have a choice as to how much we access social media and we can choose the way we think about what we see, hear and read. We can also choose whether we are passive voyeuristic bystanders or whether we actively participate and contribute, which is far less likely to have an impact on the envy scale because we’re actually engaging with people.
I confess that I’m an old-fashioned gal and I haven’t exactly fallen in love with social media. I don’t think I’m the only one and several of my friends take a hiatus from Facebook. It’s never permanent though, they always go back which I put down to FOMO… It’s a paradox really – that fear of missing out versus the envy.
So, what do you do? I’ll bang that drum again – mindset. The way you think about what you think about is far more important than what you think about. If you’re using social media as a way of connecting to family and friends, be aware that the nature of the beast is that it’s the highlights rather than their lowlights they’re usually posting. If they’ve good news, great, celebrate. If you find yourself feeling envious, think about why that is. In these instances, I always find it helpful to ask myself ‘Oh that’s interesting Kirsty, why do you think you’re feeling like this?’ Introspection is a gift for us humans, so use it. Perhaps you’re feeling envious because there’s something lacking in your life? Maybe it’s a bit of a wake-up call… Are you on the treadmill working at the same company for 20 years, no perks, same thing day in day out and maybe your friend’s new job role will spur you on to make a long overdue change. Do your cousin’s holiday snaps lead you to think that perhaps that familiar resort in Majorca you love so much and return to every year, may just have served its time… Perhaps somewhere different will bring new enriching experiences…
Social media isn’t all bad. In fact, none of it is bad – it’s only as good or bad as you decide it is. Decide to be conscious about the way you’re thinking about social media. You can take it or leave it and when you do engage with it, the way you respond to what you see, hear and read is entirely of your choosing.
“A person is limited only by the thoughts that they choose.” James Allen
By Kirsty Perrin
About the Author: Having been immersed in the Winning Edge principles from an early age, Kirsty’s philosophy is to be the best you can be and to enjoy what you do in life.
Kirsty knows that personal development is a continuous journey and therefore has a genuine desire and enthusiasm to help people realise their full potential, to be a success in their life-whatever that may mean to them.
Kirsty’s thought-provoking blogs, prompt readers to think consciously about how their thinking has a huge impact on their life, it informs their emotions and therefore their behaviour. Living life consciously is the cornerstone to the themes of Kirsty’s blogs. You can contact Kirsty directly here