HOW TO OVERCOME “FACEBOOK ENVY” IN SEVEN STEPS
POSTED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 07, 2016 AT 1:05 PM
With the holidays here, one can’t help but look at Facebook friend’s vacation pictures, holiday cards, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. For those whose lives are a little lacking in holiday cheer, this can lead to depression and feelings of “being a loser.” Is Facebook just a slickly edited version of people’s lives and how can we cope with “Facebook Envy” at any time of the year?
Facebook is a great tool to keep in touch with friends, but it can easily bring out the worst in people. "Facebook Envy" is when you look at the profiles of your friends and fear that they are living better lives than you are. Before you know it, you're spending too much time obsessing over the "perfect lives" that they portray. Dr. Sanam Hafeez is a Manhattan neuropsychologist who provides a few ways to stop envying your Facebook friends and enjoy your own life online and off.
Dr. Hafeez points out that, “Facebook Envy” can cause depression even in those who are not clinically diagnosed.” According to the researchers, most find ways to cope with the feelings of envy (in an attempt to improve life satisfaction, one would assume). Some reduce their Facebook usage (or leave the social network entirely), while others change the content they post. Women become more likely to emphasize their appearance and social lives while men boast more about their accomplishments.
Admit You're Jealous
Like Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is admitting you have a problem. When you’re clicking through another person’s wedding photo album and growing more critical with every angle of her bridal gown, you’re jealous. Just admit it. Dr. Hafeez says that, “The more you cover it up with denial or resentment, the less you’re able to get to the root of the issue. Drop your pride and ‘fess up to your envy. It’s okay. It’s a really lovely dress, and every other girl looking at the album is wishing they had it too.”
See through the rose colored glasses
Understand the psychology behind seeing other's lives through rose colored glasses. We tend to attribute positive experiences to others while at the same time amplifying negative impressions of our own life. In a study undertaken at Stanford University entitled "Misery has More Company Than People Think", researchers found that many of us have a tendency to over-inflate our misery without compensating for how much others around us are probably doing the same. In other words, we tend to underestimate how much other people experience negative emotions and overestimate our belief that they must be experiencing many more positive ones than ourselves. Our false perception of other's ever-positive lives is bolstered by the reality that in a social context, most people tend to conceal their negative emotions for a variety of reasons (a main reason being to smooth social interactions) and reveal a more positive side to outsiders than may be the case. This "glossing" can make it seem like other people are truly happier than our own self.
Recognize the Narcissists
Recognize that a number of your friends are possibly narcissists and great story-tellers to boot. They're good at suddenly reframing life's dull moments into "Pay attention to me! Something's happened to me again in the last hour!" Dr. Hafeez shares that, “It doesn't mean that they're deliberately misleading you but it does mean they have a compulsion to share, share, no matter how ordinary their update would be if you or someone else less narcissistic wrote it! This type of Facebook user starts to see life through Facebook update language, so they convince themselves that every moment becomes worthy of a Facebook update.”
Celebrate the success of others.
Genuinely and practically, rejoice in the fortune of others. When somebody receives something that you desire, be happy for them. If you wanted it, they probably did too. Stop viewing life as a competition. Joy is not a finite resource. And the moment you learn to experience happiness in others’ joy is the day you take a huge step to overcoming envy once and for all.
If you are Grieving, Stay Away from Social Media.
There are times when tragedy or huge disappointments will strike and will cause you to grieve for some time. Dr. Hafeez points out that, “Even though shutting people out is not recommended, while grieving and seeing other people post anything joyous is going to make things worse for you. That is the time to keep away and you will need time to process everything.” If you are running a business, you however will need to make sure that the social media for your business is taken care of. That is the time to find someone to manage it for you whether it is a friend, relative or social media manager. Just be sure to make it noticeable on your social media pages that you will be less active for a while due to some personal issues that came up- so others can understand why you are not going to be interactive for a while.
Stop the automatic saturation.
If you have Facebook or other social media applications installed on your phone to the point where you go to them almost mindlessly with any free moment you have, you’ve got to consciously break the cycle. Dr. Hafeez stresses that, “The habit can be so automatic that you are bombarding your ego without even realizing what you’re doing. Create a barrier or two to getting onto social media—having to log in from the Internet rather than automatically being taken there through an app, for instance—to make sure that when you enter the social media world, you are at least doing it mindfully and proactively, rather than passively, where you’ll be more vulnerable to hits you didn’t actively choose in the first place.”
Choose live action.
There are many benefits of keeping in touch online—and certainly people can develop relationships that feel just as real as in-person ones. Nonetheless, if you start feeling down and trapped in a negative feedback loop of staring at other people’s two-dimensional, pixelated lives, getting back into the three-dimensional mode can be helpful. Have coffee with somebody, and let the point be driven home that their hair isn’t as perfect as it looks in photos. Have a real-life playdate and remind yourself that kids have many antics that can be far from picture- perfect and won’t make the cut for their parents‘ Facebook pages. Seek out someone’s in-person laugh—even just via a phone call—and take comfort that real life is messier, but often more truly beautiful, than what you see on a screen.