Two or three times today, I heard random people talking about “social envy.” A chronic disease, apparently. What is “social envy?” you ask. It’s looking at what everyone else is doing and assigning some level of importance to it, and then feeling less about yourself because of your self-prescribed negativity. For example, if you are seeing someone’s vacation pics, or someone you know went out to dinner, but didn’t invite you, those instances could be chances for “social envy.”
Of course, we’re all guilty of it on some days. We think we’re the only ones not having fun. We see something exotic, and we think that others have the exciting life that you never will have. In reality, people tend to only post the great things about themselves. You rarely see selfies of people with bad-hair days. You don’t see many photos of the laundry that needs to be folded and put away, or the sink full of dishes. We don’t tend to post the mundane. If someone does, it’s usually because they’re some sort of comic who finds funny memes to post, OR it’s because someone is a drama queen (or king) complaining about how bad life is.
While social media can be a great way to know the happenings in someone’s life, and it reduces the need to send a once-a-year Christmas letter summing up the year for friends, it can also become a trap that causes depression and loneliness. It depends on the narrative that you allow to play inside your head as you’re catching up on your favorite people. Do you allow comparisons to run through your mind? Do you look for the beauty or the flaws in someone’s selfie so that you can either lift yourself up or put yourself down?
Since I started this blog, I’ve really tried to post mostly uplifting sayings or scriptures. I’ve shared photos, but it’s mostly so that my family has access to the pics I’ve taken. I’ve worked hard not to allow negative self-talk become my norm, trying to rejoice in others’ happiness and crying with those in some sort of pain. But I also love some corny humor, so you may see something on my wall that may cause you to roll your eyes! Maybe all those things cause you to think I live some sort of charmed life. And, in many ways, I do, but maybe not in the way you’d imagine.
My hope is not that looking at my life through pictures and short phrases causes you to be lonely and sad. Life is too short to spread misery! But I do wish that you will find hope and encouragement through something I’ve said or shared. Maybe my positivity will help someone who’s down, and on other days, maybe someone else’s positivity will lift me up. It’s a great way to do life together, even at a distance!
DAY 328 HOMEWORK: Do you inadvertently (or purposefully) create social envy? If so, work on stopping that. Start sharing the positive and redeeming things you know about. Spread positivity, and let’s start a revolution.