One of the Facebook friends is on the coast of Maine on a family vacation. Another flies around the United States and beyond doing educational workshops in really cool historical places . . . and, gets paid to do it. This other friend is in Yellowstone National Park and has taken pictures of just about every living critter in the park . . . grizzly bears, moose, black bears, wolverines, badgers, mountain goats, Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep, wolves, and even the always around bison and elk. Another friend just built a new addition onto their new house because they needed a little more room . . . for a cool hundred thousand. One quit his job and jetted down to South America for the World Cup. Another shared that her child was a genius and has already been accepted into Harvard . . . he goes into the first grade next year. One friend has the next Michael Jordan as the kid is averaging close to sixty points in the family league held in their driveway. Pretty amazing stuff!
As I skim through my newsfeed on Facebook I am always in awe of the accomplishments and adventures all of my Facebook buddies have experienced. I am in astonishment of the excitement that fills their lives each and every waking moment. I am amazed at the life experiences and growth their lives afford them on a daily basis. Plus, I am flabbergasted at the many of thousands of varieties of foods and drinks they consume while on these daily adventures. And, I sigh . . . I sigh at what a wonderful life they all seem to be having in comparison to my own life. Someone told me that I might be suffering from Facebook envy.
I had never heard of such a thing . . . but, it does exist. I looked it up on the ever reliable Internet and found hundreds of thousands of links dealing with this phenomena . . . Facebook envy. According to most the sources on the Internet, Facebook envy is when you look at the profiles of your friends and fear that they are living better lives than you are . . . that the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. Apparently this is pretty serious stuff as millions of dollars are being dumped—or should I say, invested—into researching this topic. Rampant Facebook envy can cause people not to like themselves or their lives . . . can make them jealous . . . and, can even cause depression. It can create emotional pain and resentment. Heaven forbid that it can make a person feel bad because they feel left out of the good life that everyone else seemingly has.
Omigod! I didn’t realize it was such a terrible malady that could strike anyone using the social media of Facebook. I didn’t realize that I was scratching on the surface . . . entering into the realm of such a drastic and debilitating curse . . . all because I looked in wonder and sighed at the portrayals of the good life everyone else is living. This envy . . . this Facebook envy had to be stopped in its tracks before it completely manifested itself in my life.
One site I visited while looking for ways to avoid the green-eyed monster of Facebook suggested that the first step is that one has to admit that there is a problem. Just admit it, said the site . . . admit that you are jealous. It is like having a problem with alcohol or drugs or food . . . it is an addiction that is consuming one’s life. To deny it is to make it worse. Reading this I went straight to the telephone directory (yeah, we still have a land line) looking for the closest 12-step program dealing with Facebook envy. Found Alcoholics Anonymous, Over-eaters Anonymmous, programs for drugs, sex, complusions . . . but nothing for Facebook envy. Then, I thought, this just might be a way to make a quick buck . . . get the money while it is hot; but, my conscience wouldn’t let me take advantage of people when they are down on their luck . . . Facebook envy is a terrible thing to take advantage of.
Another site suggested that one should use a form of reverse psychology . . . that the problem is that those who are experiencing Facebook envy are not being appreciative enough of their friends and the extraordinary lives that they are living. Compliments those friends having the great luck and lives . . . give them a thumbs up . . . congratulate them . . . after all, you never really thought most of them would amount to anything. Besides, wallowing in the mud only makes one dirtier. I couldn’t do that either . . . felt like lying.
One site suggested that those experiencing Facebook envy in their lives should just give themselves a break. Suggested that it is like comparing apples to oranges, and allowing other people to set the bar for their lives. Apparently the focus is on the wrong person. Instead of focusing on others, focus on yourself . . . focus on your life. Remember that you are a unique individual with your own goals and dreams . . . chase after your own happiness. I thought about it . . . I don’t want my life . . . I want my friends’ lives. On Facebook they sure look like they are having a heck of a lot more fun than I am!
Another site suggested taking a break from Facebook . . . of actually stepping away from the computer and all social media . . . to take a Facebook hiatus and to go out to really live life . . . to be so busy actually living life that there isn’t enough time to check on other people’s statuses or to update your own. Tell an alcoholic to just quit drinking . . . or a drug addict to stop taking drugs . . . it is not that simple. My hands started twitching as soon as I read that one. Besides, if I went out and lived the perfect life I would still need Facebook so I could rub all of my friends’ noses in it.
The last site I checked out, and the one that actually got me excited, said that people should take what they are reading on Facebook with a grain of salt . . . maybe even suck down the whole salt shaker. You see you are not really “friending” someone when you befriend them on Facebook . . . you are not seeing the real person, you are seeing their publicist. Some folks have better publicists than others. Rarely do you see the bad stuff that is happening in people’s lives, you are only seeing the good things that are going on. The truth gets stretched or a few facts are left out. They sugar-coat things. It is a mask that people hide behind. Facebook is never the whole story . . . it is only the parts that we want to show . . . and, that is not reality . . . at least not one worth being jealous over. The truth is somewhere between here and there . . . and, there can be a great distance between the two.
That pretty much knocked out the fever I was beginning to experience glancing over the newsfeed on Facebook. Cured me of that envy once and for all. Put me back on track for what I use Facebook for in the first place . . . a platform. A platform to share photographs I take. A platform to share my blog and sermons. A platform to share news about the church I serve. That is the purpose of Facebook for me. Facebook is a tool for me. Oh sure, I take the time to check out what is supposedly happening in the lives of those who are friended . . . I think they call it “trolling” . . . and, I am always in amazement of what is happening in the lives of those I know. Good for them! May they have many, many more years of wonderful life, great adventures, and amazing stories to share . . . I have the salt shaker right next to the computer! Besides, I am pretty sure that they don’t want to hear about me winning the lottery, being chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize, or nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in blogging.
I can already hear them choking on the salt!