In the world of social media, it’s easy to feel our lives aren’t as full or complete as they should be. When we peek into the lives of others, we see only the best those lives have to offer. Often, we question why we don’t live up to that same standard.
Why can’t we be as successful, have as much fun, go as many places or even just be as happy as those we see online? Why are we left feeling envious and jealous of lives we don’t have?
It’s hard to believe, but that feeling is universal. All of us want a job with fewer frustrations or a report card with better grades or memories of more exciting vacations. We all want our family photos and selfies to reflect the most that we desire for ourselves.
Trying to reach that standard inevitably leads to feelings of envy and jealousy aimed at those who appear to have more success, no matter how incorrect that appearance may be.
It’s a standard set so high that there’s no choice but to feel like we fell short. How can we not feel inadequate?
Even though it was written millennia prior to the creation of the first social network, the Bible provides guidance for matters such as these. For example, one of its most famous verses, 1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated.”
In other words, social media is everything love is not. Our online lives are not patient and often not kind. They can create jealousy, and when we share our lives, it’s hard not to appear pompous or have our successes appear inflated — after all, we post our failures far less often.
Another pertinent verse is less known, but equally relevant, at least to me. That verse is Proverbs 14:30, “A tranquil mind gives life to the body, but jealousy rots the bones.”
Of that, there is no doubt. That pit of anger in your stomach caused by envy and jealousy can definitely rot the bones and destroy your heart. If you have that feeling, it’s a sign you need to let it go.
But, before moving on, analyze the cause of that rot. Reflect on your feelings. Envy and jealousy can be used to create a tranquil mind if you’re more aware of why you feel the way you do.
Take a moment and list, mentally if not literally, what it is that sparks those emotions within you.
Do you hear stories of travel and imagine visiting more places? Do you observe professional or educational success and question the futility you feel? Do you view family photos and selfies and dream of seeing those you love more often?
By asking these questions, you’re identifying what it is that you think you’re missing. That knowledge is necessary to complete an honest self-assessment. Are these events missing from your life, or are they ideals no single person could possibly achieve?
If it’s the latter, it’s time to move on. Don’t let your dream accomplishments diminish the successes you actually achieve. If it’s the former, let go of envy and jealousy, and focus on improvements you can make.
Most important, spend time looking at your own social media content the same way you look at everyone else’s.
You may discover the most impressive life you see is your own.
Erick Rommel works for a nonprofit youth organization. He can be reached at Erick.Rommel@gmail.com.