Growing up, my parents always taught me to never gloat, never show off, and always stay humble. Part of the reason was simply to be a more modest and unpretentious person, but the other part was because of something called حسد (hasad). In Arabic, hasad means envy, jealousy, or to dislike that someone has a blessing, object, or happiness, and to wish it be removed from that person. Of course, I knew and understood that envy was very much present in our society and culture, but that never really stopped me from being proud of what I had and showing off a little. I always thought to myself "just because someone is jealous of you does not mean that they can 'magically' wish something bad for you and it would come true. Why can't I just be grateful for what I have and post pictures of it every once in a while?" Who would want to wish misfortune on me anyway? I have amazing friends and no enemies, and so it is not something that I really worried about. After 20 years on this earth, I have finally come to realize that just because you have no enemies (to your knowledge), it does not mean that there aren't people out there who would wish hardship onto you, in fact, it is very likely to be your closest friends/ family.
The concept of the "Evil Eye" has been around for centuries. There are many speculations as to where it originated, and it is thought to have Sumerian, Egyptian, and Greek roots. It was a powerful symbol used in ancient Egypt to ward off evil and enviers. It was thought to be protective in that it reflects evil back onto the evildoer. It even has ties within the religion of Islam. In Surah Al- Falaq (the 113th chapter of the Quran), there is a verse that says to "seek refuge from the evil of the envier when he envies," in other words, we are told to recite this Surah (chapter), when we believe people have envied us to protect us from their ill-wishes.
In addition to religious protection, there have been talismans created to ward off evil and envy. The most common one is the evil eye of protection (the blue symbol most people have in their Instagram bios) and the Khamsa hand symbol (the necklace that most Mediterranean and middle eastern people wear). Khamsa in Arabic means five, which is thought to represent the five fingers of the hand. These artifacts are the ancient versions of you saying "knock on wood," every time you don't want to "jinx" anything. The main idea is that there are indeed people out there who think about what you have and want it taken from you in order to make themselves seem more prestigious and esteemed. In fact, you may be actually doing this to others without knowing it.
It is normal and natural to want to compare yourself to others and have an intrinsic competition. Evolutionarily speaking, it is how we ensure that we have the greatest probability of success in the future so that we are able to thrive, obtain security, and reproduce. There is a fine line, however, between jealousy and envy. Instead of thinking "wow, I'm so happy for person A for doing xyz.... I wish I could do that," you may think "wow I can't believe person A did that... I hope that they fail so that I appear better." When you find yourself comparing every minute detail of your lives such as what job you have, your relationship status, how many friends you have, what car you drive, how much money you make, etc. that is when it starts getting dangerous. Although it is natural to feel an internal competition, that doesn't mean that you should ever wish misgivings on someone else, not even your worse enemy. People who are the happiest tend to worry less about what others are doing and focus more on their own journey and their own life.
With all this said, I will admit, I am not the most humble person on earth. I still post on Facebook or Instagram when something good happens in my life or if I get a new job or get accepted into a new program. It is hard to not want to share your blessings with the world when it is the cultural norm to post "updates" every day on your profile or to update your status. I am, however, much more aware of what I post and I encourage others to do so as well. For every 5 good things that happen to you, maybe just post about one. You never know what others might be saying about you or wishing on to you, so it might be better to keep your blessings to yourself and stay humble. Not everything needs to be shared and be made a spectacle. Not everything needs to be compared. Not everything needs to be a competition. We need to start pushing and motivating each other to be better rather than trying to knock each other down.