How To Stop Facebook Envy & Start Enjoying Life

— Researched and written by Dr. Sandip Roy.

A lot of envy exists on Facebook.

Your happy friends on your timeline make you unconsciously think that their lives must be happier, easier, and more fun-filled. This social comparison drives envy and depression.

We’ve all felt it and wondered at some point in our lives how to get over it.

What Is Facebook Envy

Facebook envy is the negative experience of being resentful of other people’s lives on Facebook. It is the shame and disdain one feels at their own life upon “realizing” that other Facebook users have more fun, interesting, and worthwhile lives. It results from comparing one’s real life to others’ online lives.

An urban dictionary definition of Facebook envy: A feeling of intense jealousy that sweeps over you once you find your friends’ lives are way more fun than yours.

Can you overcome your Facebook envy?
Facebook envy results from comparing one’s real life with others’ online lives.

8 Facts On Facebook Envy

  1. One-third of people felt worse, more frustrated with their lives, and envious after going to Facebook (Krasnova & Wenninger, 2013).
  2. Passive surfers on Facebook felt the greatest dissatisfaction. This study by Kross & Verduyn said the same thing — that passive use of Facebook leads to people feeling less and less good over time. The main reason was that more passive scrolling made people more envious of others.
  3. Envy on Facebook leads to an “envy spiral.” Those who feel envy tend to “dress up” their timelines with pictures and statuses that will further make others envious.
  4. Vacation images were the most common cause of envy on Facebook. Holiday shots sparked 56.3% of the envy incidents on Facebook.
  5. A comparison of social interactions was the second most typical reason for envy. FB users compared how many birthday greetings they received against those of their Facebook friends. They also counted how many Likes or remarks they gathered on their images and posts.
  6. The “happiness of others” was the third most frequent cause of envy. Men, specifically those in their mid-30s, were more than likely to envy the happiness of others. This was because the men tended to post more self-promotional stuff on Facebook — to let people know of their achievements and portray themselves in a better light.
  7. The women were more prone to envy the physical attractiveness — looks and beauty — of their Facebook friends. The reason was that women tended to post more content on their walls that emphasized good looks and happier social lives, so this was a ready point of reference among them.
  8. Kross and Verduyn 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.

5 Ways to Find Joy Beyond Facebook Envy

The saying “the grass is greener on the other side” reflects our natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. On social media, this often leads to envy.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.

But we can take measures to avoid feeling envious and reclaim our joy.

Here are 5 ways to overcome your Facebook envy:

1. Realize that other peoples’ lives have frustrations too

Remember, the grass isn’t always greener.

Facebook showcases the best moments, not the struggles and setbacks everyone faces. When you scratch the surface, you’ll find that their lives probably have nearly as many dark spots as yours.

Their picture-perfect vacation might come with hidden anxieties, just like your everyday life has its moments of triumph. Focus on your own journey, not the carefully crafted snippets you see online.

Facebook is a playground for the narcissist within us — we post the bits that will make us seem the best among our peers. Studies suggest that social media fuels middle-aged adults’ narcissistic tendencies.

2. Pass over their holiday pictures discreetly

Mute the vacation posts.

If certain posts consistently spark envy, consider taking a break or unfollowing them.

Shots of your friends holidaying in picturesque places on Earth are the biggest cause of Facebook frustration and envy.

Understand clearly that they are on holiday and you are not. Probably, you are watching those pictures from inside your daily routine.

Don’t flip through them. And if possible, don’t even acknowledge them.

3. Take occasional breaks from Facebook

Unfollow the triggers.

Not every “friend” needs to be in your feed. Go on a social media detox.

Take regular breaks from Facebook altogether. Step away from the constant comparisons and reconnect with the real world.

Spend time with loved ones, pursue hobbies you enjoy, and focus on creating your own joy, not living vicariously through others.

Do not passively follow someone’s Facebook feed.

Envy on Facebook Wall
No Envy On My Wall!

4. Stop comparing your life with others in general

Celebrate your own wins.

Stop comparing your entire life to someone else’s curated online snippets. Instead, celebrate your own victories, big and small.

Acknowledge your progress, appreciate your unique journey, and find joy in the everyday moments that make your life special.

Comparing your entire life with the sparkling bits of your Facebook friends will always be a self-defeating scenario.

5. Be more appreciative of the good things in your life

Rediscover the small joys in your own life.

As we see the carefully curated highlights of other people’s lives, we tend to overlook the good parts of our own lives. Be thankful for your blessings in life.

Choose to fill your newsfeed with things that inspire you, not those that leave you feeling down.

Remember, social media should be a window to uplift, not a breeding ground for envy.

Social Scientists Expose the Dark Side of Facebook

Facebook is an unparalleled platform for social assessment. Many social scientists go to Facebook because of its reach and range.

Facebook Envy Can Cause Depression

German scientists found that envy on Facebook was a hidden threat to life satisfaction. Seeing posts and pictures of your friends’ vacations, love lives, and accomplishments on Facebook can make you envious, which can then lead to loneliness and depression.

Envy on Facebook was massive. And, the most frequent causes of envy triggered by Facebook use were:

  • “Travel and leisure”
  • “Social interactions”
  • “Happiness”
  • “Success in job”
  • “Abilities”

Overall, “travel and leisure” account for a whopping 56.3% of all envy incidents triggered by FB.

So, while traveling can increase your happiness (know why), posting your holiday pictures on social media can cause others to envy you.

What causes Envy on Facebook?
What causes Envy on Facebook? (Source)

Envy caused the most frustration on Facebook, ahead of loneliness, waste of time, and lack of attention.

The study authors write:

We find that “envy” emerges as the category of the highest importance with 29.6% of respondents mentioning it as a major reason behind frustration and exhaustion of “others”. Feelings of envy by far surpass such causes, as “lack of attention” (19.5%), “loneliness” (10.4%), and “time loss” (13.7%).

Moreover, those who scrolled their feed passively felt worse and more disappointed with their lives. They wrote:

According to our findings, passive following triggers invidious emotions, with users mainly envying happiness of others, the way others spend their vacations, and socialize. … In fact, feelings of envy mediate the relationship between passive consumption of information on Social Networking Sites and life satisfaction.

Passive following means surfing Facebook without making any updates or interacting with others.

Passive following on facebook cause envy and lower life satisfaction
Passive following on Facebook causes envy and lower life satisfaction (Source)

Further Reading

Final Words

Envy is defined as “a negative emotional response to another person’s superior quality, achievement or possession, in which the envier either desires the advantage or wishes that the envied person lacks it.”

Scientists from the Tilburg Institute for Behavioral Economics Research found that there can be two different types of envy:

  • Benign envy can be good, propelling you to learn more, perform better, and get more motivated.
  • Malicious envy is mostly destructive, dragging you down and taking away your happiness.

Let Facebook give you the benign kind of envy, and here are two ways to do that:

  1. Compare your life with only those who are just marginally better than you.
  2. Remind yourself that social media is often a curated highlight reel, not reality.

√ Also Read: How much do your Facebook friends reduce your happiness?

√ Please spread the word if you found this helpful.

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