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How many times a day do you mindlessly pick up your phone and go through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s almost second nature at this point – like checking e-mail. Social media, it seems, has become a part of your daily routine.
As you scroll through your Instagram feed, you notice one of your friends has off from work today -- she posted a picture of herself on the couch, sipping hot cocoa, watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy #dayoff #lovinglife #bejealous.
You roll your eyes and keep scrolling.
You see some food pics. You graze over a selfie or two. And then you’re confronted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers with the caption “just because.” One of your friend’s boyfriends had sent them. You don’t have flowers or a boyfriend. A little piece of you dies inside.
After a few more minutes of self-induced torture, you sigh and put your phone down, attempting to resume whatever you were doing before you went down this rabbit hole…but you’re suddenly in a funk. You feel bitter. You can’t get those stupid flowers or your friend’s hot-cocoa-drinking-couch-lounging day out of your head.
According to some psychologists now, you may be suffering from a severe case of “Instagram envy.” Seriously, it’s a thing that lab coats are studying right now.
Of course, Instagram is not the first social media platform we’ve blamed for our misery -- Facebook and Twitter have always been accused of causing FOMO (the fear of missing out), where everything everybody else was doing always seemed better than what you were doing. But Instagram is the app that is now considered the biggest culprit of FOMO. Those filters just make everything look so perfect and it’s worst when someone goes #nofilter because that’s just how “amazing” the subject matter really is.
I’ve been guilty of Instagram envy before. While some of my jealousy issues may seem petty -- “Oh wow, Lauren’s lunch looks way more delicious than mine” – it scares me when I think about how seriously emotionally damaging it could be for some other people. If someone’s been struggling financially, and all of their Instagram friends are posting their expensive Christmas gifts, how do you think that person is going to feel? Envious, to say the least, and in some extreme cases maybe even depressed.
I’m not saying social media is all bad. In fact, it does lots of amazing things every day: reunites long distance family members and friends, brings people together for common causes, etc. But when it becomes a tool to hurt others, whether it be emotionally or physically, it’s no longer okay.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember to take social media lightly. Remember that your friend chooses what does and doesn’t get posted – in other words, you’re only seeing what they want you to see. So don’t beat yourself up over it. Spend more time focusing on being grateful for all the positives YOU have. And if you feel like your envy is becoming overwhelming, try a social media detox. It could be just what you need.