It’s Friday night. A long weekend awaits you, and just before tucking into bed, you see a tweet from a friend announcing how exceptionally happy he is to have been shortlisted for a music award. You feel your stomach tighten and your head spin. Your heart lurches. You tighten your fist and you clench your teeth. An hour later, as you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed,you find yourself double tapping on the pictures of a friend who is currently backpacking through Europe.
She laughs at you, drunkenly, and even through the Valencia filter on her face, your mood swings so fast you have to put your phone away. You seem to have stopped breathing.
You have never been into music, and you have never enjoyed the idea of hiking or backpacking, and yet – when you read that tweet or scrolled through those photos – you so desperately wanted what those people had, that it left you drowning in the most powerful, most painful of all emotions – envy.
Sometime around 4th century BC, Aristotle defined jealousy as “pain at the sight of other’s fortune.”
A thousand odd years would pass before the Catholic pope adds it to their list of seven deadly sins. And it would be more than three thousand years before the impact of envy would be studied by clinical psychologists.
You may be approaching the problem all wrong
After losing a night’s sleep over the happiness and achievements your friends had published on their micro blogging sites, you post a cryptic Facebook status that says ‘Nobody is as perfect as they seem’ and make a cliche tweet that says ‘social media makes appearances seem like reality,’ followed by a ‘people rarely show you the lows’ Whatsapp status. You attach one of the several million blogs that have been making the rounds – because hey, you’re a sapiosexual. You’re always correct.
If you’d been born a hundred years ago, you’d have been jealous of your neighbors. Tough luck, you were born at a time when the whole world could be contained in your hands for comparison.
What you don’t understand is that the problem doesn’t lie with the tweet or the Instagram photo. The problem isn’t Twitter. The problem isn’t Instagram or Facebook or Snapchat.
The problem lies in the fact that when you see someone win, instead of feeling genuine happiness for them, you let yourself be overtaken by an envy of their lives. Instead of feeling grateful for what you have, you make yourself accessible to a life of comparison.
Instead of going on a social media detox (which is an entirely futile solution looking for a problem), practice mindfulness, daily affirmations and most importantly – practice gratitude.
The antidote to the poison
Understand that by going on a social media detox or by deleting your accounts, you’re not curing. Social media is the symptom, and killing the symptom never cured anyone of cancer.
Jealousy is – in many ways – like cancer. It is silent, destructive, deceitful and pure malice. Envy in everyday life is a deep rooted issue. It’s not simply about ruining what someone else has, but more about not wanting someone else to have it.
So how do you beat social media jealousy, while you remain plugged into your favourite apps?
If social media jealousy is poison, gratitude is the antidote.
Falling in love with your life, with what you have and with all that you’ve created for yourself – is the ultimate jealousy killer. Begin by listing five things that you love about yourself. Or a list of ten things you have that you are grateful for. Do this on a daily basis, and soon when you read a tweet about someone getting felicitated for an achievement you will find yourself writing a congratulatory reply that is real and genuine.
As cliched as it may sound, you are unique in your own way, and there is only one you in this entire universe. Once you truly see your beauty and embrace your life just the way it is, it becomes extremely hard to get jealous of anyone else’s life.
You get jealous when you haven’t made peace with yourself. Envy is the love child of low self esteem and hatred. Fortify yourself with confidence and self love – people can’t break a woman or a man made of stuff like that.
A powerful learning exercise
Social media jealousy is also a great learning exercise.
Instead of getting jealous of the people who post whatever they post, try to learn from them. Discard the fact that you can never have what they have. Instead, internalize the fact that you have all the potential to do what they do – but in your own unique way. Look for clues. Study their lives. When you honestly feel happy for them, you can initiate a conversation that wouldn’t seem negative or threatening or uncomfortable. When you are jealous, people pick up on such things.
But when you openly admit genuine happiness for their milestones – be it an award, a promotion, a wedding ,a engagement or even a baby – instead of acting blind to it, or worse, mocking it or undermining it, you will get to understand what lead them to possess the things you envy.
By rotting in social media jealousy or by treating it all wrong by shunning it or blocking yourself from the glorious beauty of the connected world, you are only attracting more mediocrity, more lack of success, more lack of loving relationships, more hardships, and more obstacles..
But when you practice mindfulness and gratitude, you will reach a point of security where you begin to legitimately feel happy at the success stories shared on Social Media. When you celebrate the successes of others, when you feel legitimately happy for them, you are sending a signal to the universe that you are now ready to attract the positive circumstances that will lead you to success, growth, and prosperity.
When someone decides to share a happy moment or a major milestone on social media, leave jealousy in the past, and seek to emulate their success.