Envy On Facebook
Facebook can spawn dangerous levels of envy in you. Because you, like most other Facebook users, will readily agree that others have better lives than you.
Facebook, the world’s biggest social network with over a billion users, is an unparalleled platform for social assessment. Given its reach and range, it has been the go-to place for many social scientists.
A few years back, German scientists found that watching your friends’ holidays, love-lives and business-successes on Facebook can create envy in you. Which can then set off emotions of anguish and loneliness.
A joint-research team from two German colleges, with Thomas Widjaja, Helena Wenninger and Peter Buxman from Darmstadt Technical University, and Hanna Krasnova from Humboldt University, found a widespread presence of envy on Facebook. They presented their findings in an Information Systems conference in Germany in February 2013. Their conclusions were based on two studies that involved 600 participants.
Envy on Facebook was massive, as they found. One in 3 people felt worse after going to the website, and felt more disappointed with their lives. And the participants who browsed Facebook passively had the greatest impact of this.
“From our observations many of these people will leave Facebook or at the very least reduce their use of the site,” said Krasnova to The Telegraph. This adds to the conjecture that Facebook might be reaching saturation point in a few marketplaces.
Of the two studies, the first looked over the scale, scope and nature of envy situations provoked by Facebook. In this, the respondents got asked:
“Many users report feeling frustrated and exhausted after using Facebook. What do you think causes these feelings?”
Almost 30% felt that envy was the main reason. Envy ranked the highest in causing Facebook frustration. In fact, it ranked much higher over feelings of loneliness, loss of time and ‘lack of attention.’
The second study explored how following others people’s lives on Facebook triggered feelings of envy. What they found in this was that passive following on Facebook was negatively linked to life satisfaction. That is, the more intense their passive following, the less amount their life satisfaction.
Passive following means surfing Facebook without making any updates or interacting with others.
The overall findings this research threw up might end up surprising you:
- Facebook makes users dissatisfied and envious. One-third people felt worse and more frustrated with their lives after going to Facebook.
- Passive surfers on Facebook felt the greatest dissatisfaction among all its users. Another 2013 study by Ethan Kross and Philippe Verduyn said the same thing — that passive use of Facebook leads to people feeling less and less good over time. This was mainly due to increasing feelings of envy toward others.
- Envy on Facebook leads to an “envy spiral.” That is, those who felt envy often took to dressing up their timelines with pictures and statuses that will further make others envious.
- Vacation images were the most common cause of animosity on Facebook, as the researchers conclusively found. Holiday shots sparked more than 55% of the envy incidents on Facebook.
- A comparison of social interaction was the second most typical reason for envy. The users compared how many birthday greetings they received against their Facebook friends. And counted how many Likes or remarks they gathered on their images and posts.
- The third most frequent cause of envy was the “happiness of others.” Men in their mid-30s were more than likely to envy the happiness of others. The researchers guessed that this was because men tended to post more self-promotional stuff on Facebook — to let people know of their achievements and portray themselves in a better light.
- Meanwhile, women were more prone to envy the physical attractiveness of their Facebook friends. It was because women tended to post content on their walls that emphasized good looks and happier social lives.
Kross and Verduyn (other study) found that the more people used Facebook at a certain time, the worse they felt the next time. And, the more they used Facebook over a given period, the more their life satisfaction levels fell during that period.
Just think: Facebook was devised to raise people’s happiness levels by making social interactions easy. But in truth it does just the reverse. Envy on Facebook in its ubiquitous presence sabotages the life satisfaction of users.
How To Overcome Facebook Envy
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. It will always be. That’s human. And that’s what causes envy. It’s hard to shed the feeling. But we can try to overcome this using a few mind hacks.
Jealousy And Envy
Is Envy same as Jealousy?
It’s becoming common to use the terms jealousy and envy interchangeably, as though they are one and the same. Many say that using two distinct words to mean the same thing could be the source of confusion and have negative impacts on a wide range of relationships. And many others say it does not matter which term you use.
It’s true that jealousy and envy both involve evaluations and differences. There is a difference, however. Despite the fact that jealousy and envy look like cousins, the psychological encounter for each can feel rather distinct. That’s to say, the words you decide to label your encounters might really make the situation better or worse.
Especially, envy often feels far more loaded with an atmosphere of treachery and perhaps, as many others may explain, echoes of pity.
Envy is the feeling that you wish you had something that someone else has. It could be a thing they have or a quality they own, as characteristics, success, or intellect. In envy you feel pained.
Jealousy involves believing you’ll lose some thing or some person from your security to another individual. In jealousy, you feel threatened that the item of your deepest love will be taken away from you.
Envy is a painful mix of feelings caused by comparison with others who have something we strongly want. It is always a response to the desperate feeling that we are lacking something. Jealousy is a response to the threat of losing something.
Envy happens whenever we lack a desired trait enjoyed by another. Jealousy happens when a third person endangers something we already possess. And so, envy is a two person scenario whereas jealousy is a third person scenario.
A team of scientists led by van de Ven from the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research found that there can be two different types of envy:
- Benign, and
The benign kind of envy can be good for you. It can propel you to learn more, perform better, and get more motivated. The second kind, malicious, is destructive; it can drag you down and take away your happiness.
So, stick to being a small bit, the benign kind of, envious by comparing with only those — on Facebook and in life — who are just marginally better than you. It will drive you do change in a positive way.
- The Psychology of Jealousy and Envy
- ENVY: A Theory of Social Behaviour
- Jealousy: What It Is and Who Feels It
- Overcoming Jealousy and Possessiveness
- The Dangerous Passion: Why Jealousy Is As Necessary As Love And Sex
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