So there I sat, hoping that the report I’d heard the night before that the government is watching all of us through our webcams isn’t true. After all, I looked BAD! My hair wasn’t combed. No makeup. Lounging in my knit shorts and tank top, looking and feeling frumpy, I did what we all do when we’re tired and bored, I clicked onto Facebook.
There they were:
Beautiful people. (Okay, at least they were people who’d put on their “out of the house” clothes for the day)
Women wearing their best clothes with matching accessories---all dressed up with somewhere to go.
They were all traveling, accomplishing things, or going places. They were climbing mountains, riding bicycles, and running marathons. (Here I sat feeling very proud to have cleaned the bathroom that day.)
They were either eating or preparing delicious meals made with only organic or extra healthy ingredients. If you clicked on the recipes they led you to cooking sites or worse yet, Pinterest (the site designed to make all of us feel like we are n-e-v-e-r doing enough.)
And they all seemed so happy.
Their families seemed to be filled with perfect relationships, and their children were always doing the most adorable things. (Video was often provided for these moments). There were photos of family’s enjoying sporting events, school activities, amusement parks, and all sorts of other fun adventures. No one ever cried, yelled, got into a fight, got a bad grade, or failed to reach their accomplished goal.
No, in the world on my Facebook screen it seemed like everyone was living happily ever after.
As I sat scrolling through the news feed I came to a very clear conclusion: There was something obviously wrong with my life.
That’s when during my lazy day off I began to be overcome by a virus that we’ve all suffered from at one time or another: Facebook Envy.
Fortunately, it was short lived.
The cure---taking a brief perusal through my own Facebook page and facing reality.
Reality: There are no “lazy days attire” photos of me on my Facebook page. (Are you kidding I would kill anyone who put them on!?!) No, I only post photos on the days when my hair is fixed, my makeup is done, and I actually like the outfit I’m wearing. That’s when I started thinking about this virus of Facebook Envy, and came up with a few tips to help us all avoid being infected with the germs of jealousy, envy, and discontentment. If you’ve ever experienced these symptoms, then perhaps these tips will help you, too.
Realize Facebook only captures the moments of life that we want to share with the world.
Don’t believe me, then take a look at your own Facebook page. How many pictures are there of you cleaning the toilet, washing the dishes, or looking frazzled and frumpy? Did you post a video when your child threw a temper tantrum or post a statement that said, “My kid came home with detention and a “D” in Math”?
No, you didn’t.
Guess what---just because you’re friends aren’t making posts like this doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing many of the same trials of life that as you. Reality is that we all have good days and bad days---days where our lives are fulfilling and rewarding and days where our schedules are monotonous, mundane, and frustrating. That’s life.
Unless there’s a need for urgent prayer, in the world of social media, most folks don’t advertise the mundane. They show the highlights. One of the best ways to avoid Facebook Envy is keep your perspective and realize---this is just a picture---it doesn’t tell the whole story. Until you’ve seen the whole movie of another person’s life, don’t waste time being jealous of the trailer.
Peruse the Highlights of Your Own Page
After you’ve used your own social media page as a reminder that all of us really only do post the best and brightest moments of our lives for all to see, take a moment and really stop and look at some of those highlighted moments in your life.
Notice that even though today may be filled with a pile of laundry or a stack of bills that need to be paid, you, too, have been blessed with some pretty awesome days in your own life. There may have even been a few days on there when some poor soul envied you and thought, “Wow, I wish I had her life.”
Not that creating Facebook envy is the point. (Seriously, it isn’t.)
The point is gratitude. Looking at the good days, the highlights, the days you were wished would never end, the friendship that fill your life with joy, your accomplishments, your funny blunders…all the beautiful blessings that God has given that make up your life, and saying “Thank you.”
You see, the problem with the three headed monster of Envy, Discontent, and Jealousy is that they always keep us focused on the things we don’t have. The only way to combat this is with a strong gratitude offensive---a concentrated choice to focus on what God has given us and be grateful for them.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. (Psalm 103:2)
Get Up and Do Something
If you’re still struggling with Facebook Envy even after you’ve looked over your own Timeline and counted the blessings God has given you, then it’s time to take action. In the words of the old James Brown song, “Get up offa that thing, Try to release the pressure”. (In an effort to insure that this song was in no way vulgar or offensive, I did a little research. Ironically, it was written in an attempt to cheer people up and overcome a depressed environment.)
The point is—If looking at your friend’s Facebook pictures is filling you with envy, discontentment, and jealousy, then turn off the computer, put down the phone or tablet, get up, and DO SOMETHING.
Start a project. Go for a walk. Call a real, live friend on the telephone and have a chat.
Grab a kid and make a batch of cookies. (If you don’t have kids of your own, borrow a niece, a nephew, or give a tired mom a break and offer to watch her kids.)
Just Do Something! There’s no point wasting time wallowing in envy when that same amount of time could be invested enjoying your own life.
Who knows? While you’re enjoying your life someone may take a photo and tag you in it. Now you’re creating memories rather than being jealous of other people’s moments.
Focus on Your Real Friends and Family
Really, this is just another component of point #3, but it’s so important that I think it’s worthy of its own line item. Because while virtual friends are great, they will never completely take the place of the flesh and blood people that we interact with on a daily basis. Real, true-blue friendships are built when people see each other face to face, see each other’s facial expressions, hear the inflections in each other’s voices, and are free to say things that aren’t automatically recorded for public record to be passed around if someone decides to hit “share”.
Obviously, I’m not saying you should abandon all of your Facebook friends. What I’m saying is that in a world of “virtual” friendships, we need to remember to make our real relationships with our friends, family, and all the people in our lives our priority.
So invite a friend out for coffee.
Turn off the computer and do something fun with your family.
Call a friend that lives far away and have a real conversation without emoticons.
Join a Women’s Bible Study, the PTA, or take a class.
Trust me, focusing on the real people in your life will go a long way in ending your Facebook envy.
A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)
These are just a few practical steps that I’ve found that have helped me from time to time when I was suffering from Facebook Envy.
But wait---there’s more.
Remember, this article didn’t just promise tips for how to overcome Facebook Envy. We also promised the key to becoming the envy of all your Facebook friends. (Somehow it feels wrong just typing that sentence because as Christian women our goal should not be to compete with other women and make them jealous---but bear with me and you’ll see where I’m going with this.)
Maybe a better way to say it is “How to be the Woman We All Wish We Could Be.”
Here’s the answer: (Dum-Dum-Da!!)
Be The Woman Who Doesn’t Care
Instant Clarification: I don’t mean be the woman that doesn’t care about people. As godly women, we are called to care about the needs, feelings, and souls of others. That’s a totally different discussion.
By “Be the Woman Who Doesn’t Care”, I mean, be the woman who isn’t obsessed with keeping up appearances, impressing others, and caring what other people think.
Don’t let your life be run by a public opinion poll.
Instead, live your life in such a way that no matter what you do, you don’t care if it gets posted on Facebook.
Embrace every aspect of your life and live it wholeheartedly for God.
Live, laugh, love, and let your hair down.
Post a picture of yourself without makeup once in awhile.
Tell the story of the day you spilled something in line at the grocery store and held up the line for 20 minutes.
Don’t take yourself so seriously that you always have to put your absolute best foot forward.
Be confident enough to admit that you’re human, your life has ups and downs, and from time to time you’re a goof-ball.
Because ultimately, we all want to be the woman whose life is filled with contentment, confidence, genuineness and joy. When we become that woman and stop caring about what other’s have that we want, or whether or not other people approve of our lives, that’s when we’ll overcome Facebook envy and become the women we all want to be!
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”