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Love/Relationship Columnist Author: Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist - Last Updated: Sep 7, 2017 - 10:06:33 PM

Social Media Can Bring Out the Green Eyed Monster in You

By Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC - Love/Relationship Columnist -
Feb 10, 2014 - 12:02:00 AM

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( - Most of us enjoy seeing the photos old friends and family post on Facebook. It's a way for us to keep up with each other and feel connected, even though we may live miles away. But along with the feeling of connectedness, a less fortunate side is feeling envious of our friends or families. Keeping up with the Jones' is not new phenomena, but the way social media feeds the green-eyed monster may be. Sites such as Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and even texting have exacerbated the extent to which more and more people may find themselves feeling envious of others. Living your life in front of others as social media also promotes "showing off" or trying to make events and celebrations the "most beautiful" or "most special." It's easy to understand why you may look at your "not so beautiful events" or special occasions as "not feeling so special," and wonder if there is something missing in your life and feeling jealous that yours is not as special or as beautiful as your friends or family had posted.

The push for books on finding happiness or living a balanced life are selling like hot cakes, and many of the people buying those books are looking for simple "can do" ways they can find happiness all the while feeling jealous about what is missing in their life that others seem to have. The surest way to finding misery is being jealous or envious of what someone else has. Social media may be showing you how boring or lacking your life is, but when you become jealous you are missing the other side of what social media is not showing you. That is the realistic side, the honest or transparent side. Most people don't take selfies when they first get up and are looking their worse, nor are they able to post how they are fighting with their spouse, or how their child is suffering in school, or how miserable they are in the love department. It would be one thing if feeling envy only happened to kids, but it's happening to moms, dads and everyone. You may be able to limit your kids' exposure to social media, but can you limit your own?

The bottom line is you cannot compare your life to anyone else's, and just because someone has good things happening in their life doesn't mean you are being left out or targeted as being less than. If you feel that jealousy or envy is beginning to make a presence in your life, and you find yourself feeling more and more envious, these suggestions may help you gain perspective and change your jealous ways.

  • The first thing you have to do is admit there is a problem. If you can't admit you're jealous, then anything you try to do will be ineffective.
  • Appreciate their success. Train yourself to realize that they aren't posting the whole story and you don't need to hear the whole drama details of what's going on in their life.
  • Stop comparing anyone to anyone. No one has the perfect life, and your comparison is based on false assumptions that whatever he or she posted leads him or her to nirvana. Impossible; be realistic. One good thing doesn't mean all things.
  • Make yourself limit your time on Facebook and all social media. Studies support that decreasing social media usage leads to reduced feeling of stress.
  • Learn to be grateful for what you have. You may not have the most beautiful children or the smartest, but if they love you and you love them, you are gifted beyond measure. Write that on a Facebook post and smile...

To be envious is as normal as bouts of self-pity, but to live a life feeling either of those for longer than 15 minutes is a terrible place to be stuck. You don't see the whole picture on Facebook or any social media app any more than you do in the holiday letters sent out each year. Be grateful you have friends, and learn to shut the app off if it is making you unhappy, envious or a miserable person. Remember, you control the controls. -Mary Jo Rapini

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