You know this feeling too well. That painful knot that gnaws at the pit of your stomach whenever you scroll down your feed. And it gets worse the more time you spend looking at what everyone else is doing while you're missing out.
But rather than getting buried in jealousy over the experiences others seem to be enjoying and posting about, here’s how you can fight the nagging feeling of social media envy...
What Is Social Media Envy?
Envy is that painful longing to have what others have. And if you've ever felt envious of people you see on Facebook or Instagram, you are not alone. Because of social media, people are constantly bombarded with updates about friends, family, or acquaintances and their achievements, travels, and seemingly perfect lives.
So it's hard not to fall victim to envy, jealousy, and resentment. This phenomenon is called social media envy---and it has become so pervasive that numerous studies have even linked it with symptoms of depression.
Numerous studies have shown how too much social media use can negatively impact your mental health.
Different things can trigger these feelings of jealousy. For example, an ex-beau throwing a lavish engagement party or pictures of your partner's ex showing off a toned body.
But fixating on these things and diving further into the social media profiles of those we envy doesn't help either. Rather, you may find yourself spiraling down into feelings of self-loathing, despair, and self-pity.
So how do you stop the vicious cycle?
Remind Yourself That Social Media Is Curated
You have to remember that, according to numerous studies, people tend to post only the best versions of themselves on social media.
People curate the best moments of their lives, specifically choosing what they want to show on Facebook or Instagram. Most people hide the ugly parts, the struggles to get there, and their failures. They pick the most socially acceptable and praise-worthy parts and that’s what they post.
There are a lot of things going on in people’s lives that they don't put on their updates. And you have to remind yourself that their daily lives are a lot more similar to yours than you think.
Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
When you enter that endless tunnel of comparison you tend to forget about the things you have and focus on the things you don’t. The more you obsess about all the #blessed posts, the more you forget about your own blessings.
You can start changing this mindset by writing in a gratitude journal.
Many people, including therapists, swear by the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal. You don’t have to pressure yourself to write an essay every day, but you can start by just listing down the things you are thankful for each morning. According to experts at Columbia University those who keep a gratitude journal tend to feel better about their lives.
Numerous studies have also found that cultivating an attitude of gratitude by keeping a journal can reduce anxiety and depression.
Snooze and Mute People for a Few Days
Sometimes you don’t want to cut people off completely, but their humble brags and outright boasting on social media is affecting you negatively. This is especially true if you're in a bad space---you don't want to constantly hear about a Facebook friend's new promotion if you've just lost your job.
Thankfully, developers understand this feeling and many sites have a snooze or mute feature that you can use. These features will let you hide your contacts’ posts until you're in a better headspace.
Here’s a nifty guide that will teach you how to mute people on social media, including sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Unfollow or Unfriend When Needed
The second level in your social network detox journey may involve using the unfollow feature on Facebook.
The unfollow feature basically allows you to hide a person’s posts while still remaining friends with them. Some people say it’s a subtle way to unfriend someone. You can do this if all their posts constantly make you feel bad but you don't want to unfriend them (at least not yet).
You have to remember though that when you unfollow someone you won’t see their posts but they can still see yours. So if the person has a habit of bragging in the comments on your own posts, unfollowing them may not really work.
In this case, you may need to unfriend the person. It is often a point of no return, so make sure that it's the right decision before going ahead.
Do a Social Media Detox
If you're feeling a high amount of social media envy, there’s also a chance that you just need a break from social media entirely. Spending too much time scrolling through that endless feed can impact your mental health negatively.
In this case, a break will do you good. Research has found that cutting down social media use can significantly enhance your mood and improve your mental health.
If you can’t do a full detox, maybe cutting down your time on social media to a few minutes per app per day can help. It will take your mind off of everyone’s activities and help you notice the good things that you have around you.
Enrich Your Life IRL
Once you’ve decided to do a detox or reduce the number of hours you spend on social media, you may be asking “So what do I do now?”.
The answer is a lot. There is a whole world outside social media that you may have forgotten. Start by going on a walk in the morning and afternoon.
You could also try enrolling in a class, rediscovering an old hobby or learning a new one, and reaching out to neighbors or old buddies IRL. While social media has been useful because it connects us to many people who are far away, it can also disconnect us from our loved ones nearby.
Social Media Envy Is Common But Manageable
While social media envy is normal, that doesn’t mean you need to endure it every day. Maybe this is a sign that you need a break from social media, or at least from some people online. It could also be a sign that you need to reconnect with the people who matter.
But rather than letting feelings of jealousy overwhelm you, you can manage your social media use to reduce anxiety.
Social media isn't all doom-scrolling and bad news. Here are some feel-good stories to restore your faith in humanity.