I have always been a reasonably content human being. My life has been a series of ups and downs like everyone elseâ€™s and I have always accepted that I had it pretty good most of the time but I am seeing an unsettling trend in myself and others I know. Lately it is really hard to deal with rising resentment, frustration, discontent, and yes â€“ envy.
Especially when it comes to certain peoplesâ€™ status updates. Their lives seem to be so carefree as they float from moment to moment in a state of ethereal favor while I feel like I am struggling just to maintain some thread of sanity. These are relatively new feelings for me and I can tell you, I donâ€™t enjoy them at all.
In the past, people tended to live, work, and hangout with people who had similar lives as their own. Neighborhoods were made up of streets filled with similar houses, in similar price ranges. Families often had many of the same interests and core beliefs. In one way it was an unhealthy exclusivity that bred intolerance of different people but in another way it encouraged acceptance and contentment.
In the new age of cyber friendships and worldwide socialization we are influenced by many different ideas, lifestyles, and cultures. These relationships are generally a good thing and expand us in a good way but sometimes they create a nasty little condition that has become known as cyber-envy.
It might happen when someone posts about a lucrative promotion they just got and you feel yourself tensing up as you think about the long hours that you have been putting in for a paycheck that barely covers the bills.
Maybe someone posts about the new car they got, a new home, an incredible vacation, or their perfect childâ€™s perfect SAT scores. Whatever the stimuli the result is a sudden burst of uncontrollable emotions that run the gamut from mild discontent to serious depression.
It is important to regain perspective. There are times that others are going to be envious of something you post on Facebook whether it is your new baby, the fact that you lost 45 lbs., or that new profile picture which highlights the fact that you have the most amazing eyes ever. No matter what you have, someone has something better and someone is envious of you.
Before you head for the half gallon of Chocolate-Chocolate-Chip-Pecan-Caramel ice cream you have hidden in the back of the freezer for emergency use, take a deep breath and talk yourself down off that ledge. Mentally list all the things you love about your life and create a more positive state of mind. That will work as a short term fix.
For a more permanent solution you are going to have to decide to make some changes, and only you can decide what needs to be done.
If you are struggling with cyber-envy, try taking a few days off from social media and focus on your own life and the good things in it. When you return with a new perspective, try to keep that green-eyed monster tightly tethered. If nothing else, block the people that seem to constantly have their ducks in a row.
Most of all, you need to remember that many people usually post the best things that happen and you can get an unrealistic picture of how things really are for them. I really enjoyed the perspective of this interview with therapist, Julie Hanks.
How have you dealt with cyber-envy in your own life? What about its cousin, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)?
photo credit: Arkansas Shutterbug