Picture this. You're having a good day. You accomplished something that you're proud of, whether that be finishing your work early, spending time chatting with friends or family, or completing a task that you had wanted to finish. Or maybe you received good news. Maybe your favorite celebrity announced a new project or maybe you received an acceptance letter for a job or internship. Maybe you went outside or you just feel happy for no reason.
Either way, you are in good spirits. And you continue to glow until you log onto Instagram and see someone—either a friend, family member, or a total stranger, flossin' for the 'Gram. You see photos of them vacationing, taking photos (#BFFGoals), celebrating a special moment, and living their so-called "best life." Afterwards, you can't get those images out of your mind, and it begins to mess with your psyche.
Friends, that is social media jealousy. It doesn't feel good. And if you have felt this way after browsing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or another social media platform, you are not alone. In fact, searching Google will allow you to see a variety of stories and articles on the topic. Increased social media usage has been linked to lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety. And take it from me, I have felt the effects. In numerous instances, I've gone from feeling like my life is going in the right direction to feeling like my life will never be redeemed.
People's digital scrapbooks make insecurities even more susceptible to influencing one's mental capacity. For me, I've looked at Instagram photos of people in my circle having fun with their friends on a day trip, at a restaurant, on vacation at the beach, or during some other moment in time. And very often, it reminds me of how I've never had a close friend to do those activities with. I'm also reminded of my mouth insecurities when I see photos of strangers with perfect teeth and think to myself, "My teeth are too small. I wish I had bigger teeth." To make matters worse, sometimes I see photos of a person with braces and regret that I didn't take more photos with my braces. I know that the last sentence sounds so trivial on the surface, but that's a story for another day.
Even past that, sometimes you get jealous of things that you didn't do, didn't want, or are not sure about. I see photos of people happily announcing their engagements, pregnancies, and anniversaries on social media, but I am not at that stage in my life right now. I've never dated anyone at all. And to be honest, I'm not sure if I want to date, get married, and/or have kids. If it were to actually happen, I would probably keep those moments private and in a hard-cover scrapbook.
Especially since humans are programmed to be social creatures, that also comes with the desire to show off, which, in turn, creates jealousy. Some people would ask, "Why not delete your socials if it's bothering you that much?" It is a possible solution, but then there reasons why someone chooses to keep their social media account. It could be that without it, they won't be able to keep up with friends, maintain connections, share their creativity, or save posts that inspire them for future reference. And for what it's worth, there are several strategies to help combat social media jealousy.
First off, avoid looking at accounts that make you feel bad. This does not have to be done by unfollowing the person, but even just muting the person can help you tune out the noise and make you feel less inclined to see what they're doing. Follow and keep up with accounts that make your heart sing. If you follow accounts of subjects that interest you, such as cooking, traveling, fashion, or art, you may feel better about accessing social media. Reach out to people you trust via text. See how they're doing, call them, make plans to meet them in-person. It can be difficult, but taking those actions can help improve your social life if that is one of your wishes. Challenge yourself to log off of your account after each session and log on each time you start a session. And of course, if you feel you need it, take a social media break. It doesn't have to last forever. It can last for a day, three days, a week, a month—however long you want it to last. Gee, it can last forever if you want it to.
Though regardless of the actions you take, it is important to recognize that social media is a highlight reel. People only show off the best side of themselves to the worldwide web, and frankly, their lives are a lot more boring than you think. They could be going through a lot more hurdles than you think. They can be laughing with friends in their photos while secretly feeling like they can't trust anyone. They can be showing off their pearly whites while having insecurities about their own looks and secretly being jealous of others (possibly you!).
You may never know, because they may not want you to know. However, we are individuals for a reason. Imagine if we all tried to emulate one person and everyone did the same thing at the same time. Life would be incredibly boring, wouldn't it? Tell me, wouldn't life be boring if life had one path instead of 7.8 billion paths and counting? I know it would. So anytime you feel bad about not being in someone's picture or having a celebrity's features, recall your special moments. Recall your skills and interests. Recall your goals and accomplishments. Recall the special qualities that make you, you. When you do all of that and realize that you don't have to broadcast everything on Instagram, life becomes so much more manageable!
Recognize your quirks and be proud of them. It's time we stop thinking that events didn't happen if we don't share photos and start making living in the moment an accepted way of living life.