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Social Media Envy: Six Ways to Resist the Temptation to Compare

We've all been there. You're standing in line, stuck in traffic, waiting for the timer to buzz or your friend to text back, and you click on Facebook or Twitter or some other new app. Then you see it: a photo of an old friend looking gorgeous in her swimsuit on a beach in Aruba. And the flood of crazy talk begins...

She looks so thin and fit. Did she use a filter?
Wasn't she just in Hawaii?
How much money does she have?
Who is that with her?

Those questions lead to more troubling statements...

I wish I looked like that.
I wish I could go on a vacation.
I wish we could afford a vacation.
I wish I had someone like that.

Recent studies support these self-doubting thoughts. Research shows that social media usage negatively affects a woman's mood, giving her a greater desire to change her physical appearance. 

For most of us, social media is a part of every day life. So, how do we actively engage on social media without falling prey to envy?

1. Have a purpose.

If you want to respond to a message, that's great. Reply and sign off. Want to post a picture of your family? Post and sign off. Curious who won the hockey game? Check out the score and sign off. Want to see how a friend's college search is going? Read the update, comment accordingly, and you guessed it, sign off. When you have a purpose, you'll be less likely to randomly scroll and come across a post that catches you off guard.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

2. Set a time limit.

The more you scroll the more likely you are to come across random posts by random people. I don't claim to understand all of the rhythms of Facebook, but I do know that the stories at the top of my feed are either: 1) posts by friends I interview with most or 2) trending posts (ones with a lot of likes and comments). Typically these high engagement posts are merited. It's a friend celebrating something everyone wants to cheer about, such as a child learning how to ride a bike or a 25th wedding anniversary.

The truth is, you wouldn't be jealous of a close friend's achievements. You'd be excited. The longer you linger, the more likely you are to see something of which you'd be envious. So, be intentional about your social media time.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Colossians 4:5, ESV

3. Engage with true friends.

We tend to take on the characteristics of the people we hang out with the most. Do you truly want to be like the people you're "hanging out with" on social media?

If they're negative, you might catch a bit of the negativity virus. If they're grumpy, you might be mistaken for one of the seven dwarfs. On the other hand, if you're following people who post encouraging verses, share great ideas, and leave positive comments, you'll feel encouraged, inspired, and positive.

Visit the profiles of people in your field who you respect – not as a means of comparison, but to learn and network. It goes back to having a purpose. Focus on getting your top stories from people you're cheering on and those cheering for you. Leave the others at the bottom of your newsfeed.

The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26, NIV

4. Count your blessings.

If you're jealous of someone else's post, turn right around with a gratitude post. Even if the extent of excitement in your life seems to be that you're sitting inside on a cold, drizzly day, find something positive.

"Grateful for a warm roof on a rainy day."
"Thankful these April showers will bring May flowers. #grateful"
"Loving my hot cinnamon tea on this chilly Monday morning. #thankful"

Once you start looking for things for which to be thankful, there will be so many that you couldn't possibly share them all. It will flip your mood right around.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NJKV

5. Don't count your likes or comments.

Not that any of us have ever gone back to check and see how many people liked, retweeted, or commented on our posts. Ever. Cough. But seriously, there is no gain in this. You posted what you wanted to post. You did your part. You shared. The end. Social media is meant to connect, not to brag or to measure worth. Be you. Be real. Move on.

It matters very little to me what you think of me, even less where I rank in popular opinion. I don't even rank myself. Comparisons in these matters are pointless. 1 Corinthians 4:1, MSG
 
6. Know you are marvelous in the eyes of God.

Don't compare yourselves to others. You're awesome. Exactly how you are. Exactly how the Creator of the Universe made you. Use social media as a way to share who you are and what you're doing with the people who matter the most to you. When you do that, you'll be able to stay excited and grounded in who God created you to be.

So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't. Romans 12:6

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