3 Things to Tell Yourself When Social Media Makes You Envious
- Jennifer Heeren Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- 2017 6 Jul
Summertime and the living is easy. People are going on big, fancy, week-long trips. Others are going to the beach every weekend. Everyone is having more adventures than you are. At least, that’s what it can feel like on social media.
The single person sees pictures of families having fun in the sun and longs to have a family of her own one day. A barren woman sees jokes about it taking so long to gather children and their belongings together before an outing and longs for the chance to have that kind of chaos. Families struggling to pay the bills each month wonder how others can take extravagant vacations.
Yes, social media can cause you to long for something other than what you have.
Social media is a place where you consciously or unconsciously compare your life with other people’s lives. When you do this, you’re often comparing your everyday life with someone else’s highlights. This isn’t a fair comparison. It is like comparing your just-woken-up face with the cover of a magazine where the model has spent three or more hours having her hair and makeup done. People typically post the best things about their lives on social media but this is not their whole life. If you saw everything, you might not be tempted to covet their world.
When the temptation to compare arises, fight it as quickly as you can because jealousy is like cancer in the bones (Proverbs 14:30b). Theodore Roosevelt said comparison is the thief of joy and he was right. You come home from a fun evening at a carnival with your kids. Everyone is all smiles. But then you turn on social media and see that the family down the street is living it up with Mickey Mouse. Suddenly, you’re feeling down that your kids didn’t get to go to Disney World. Your joy deflates.
Keep the following three things in mind when you’re tempted to envy:
1. “The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!” (Psalm 16:6)
The first thing to do when you’re comparing your lot with someone else’s lot is to count your blessings and then focus on them. If you’re having trouble thinking of blessings, think harder. There’s always something that you take for granted. Your location doesn’t have to be exotic to be wonderful. The smiles of kids at a carnival look the same as smiles at Disney World. You can have fun anywhere when you try, even your own backyard.
2. “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” (Galatians 6:4-5)
The next thing to remember is that you are an individual and the person you’re comparing yourself to is an individual as well. You’re not meant to live your lives in the exact same way. You’re each unique with unique purposes in life. When you spend so much time worrying about how you compare to them, you waste precious time. You should be concentrating on what you need to be doing. You’re not responsible for them and your work may remain undone while you’re wondering about their life.
3. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21)
There is one whom we are called to compare ourselves to and that’s Jesus, while he walked on the earth. This is the only comparison that can bring out the best in us. Do you care about people as you live your life? Are you looking for ways to serve each day? Do you live out the freedom he gave us by walking in the path he created you to walk? Or are you wishing for other circumstances?
God’s plan for you is not the same as his plan for another. And his plan for them is none of your concern. Jesus once said something like this to Peter: “What is it to you about another person’s lot in life? You follow me” (John 21:22, my paraphrase).
Follow Christ and don’t worry about where your life falls in line with others. Your place in life was designed for you—walk in it and notice the blessings.
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless—like chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 4:4)
Jennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund