The modern day root of evil: Envy. Defined by Google as a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
Did you know that 1 out of every 5 minutes we spend online is either spent browsing Facebook or Instagram. Habitual scrolling is what I call it. We scroll and we scroll, and we scroll some more. It often times feels like our minds are in autopilot. What’s ironic is that we consume content via Facebook and Instagram in a leisurely fashion, and yet for some it’s torturous. We keep scrolling to only experience pain.
Since we have so much power to control and manipulate our self-image on the internet, we typically are prone to only share the best that we have to offer (not everyone). Maybe you’re a hipster with an amazing man bun, and you post a photo you took with your vintage SLR camera of your wife and kids dressed in matching cardigans and J. Crew chinos. You had a Saturday with the family at the park, and this one photo did such a great job capturing the ideal image of your family that it then became worthy to post for all to see.
Someone else who follows you happens to be scrolling through their newsfeed and voila! Except the reception of this photo comes with mixed feelings. They notice every detail of the photo, including how many people liked or commented on the post. They see the post had over 100 likes! Then they decide to go to their profile and look at their timeline to see how many likes their posts usually get. They are lucky if they get 10 likes. Often times they post and no one responds. Is there something wrong with me? What’s so great about this person that they have 100 likes? What starts as simple analytics, turns into full blown extrapolation.
It seems like moments like this happen to a lot of people and quite frequently. Maybe it comes with comparing, self-deprecating, and shaming. The emotions of frustration and bitterness can surface resulting in competition, resentment or hate.
So why? Why do we continue to subject ourselves to this constant form of torture and self-abuse? And the problem here is not just the feelings that arise as a result of consuming content via social media, but creating it too. What drives us to hide behind our screens and manipulate our friends and family to only see our very best? We justify it as an artistic expression, but let’s be real. And what drives the FOMO that we can’t let go of our need for social media? Because if we were honest with ourselves, how much do we really care?
Again, this is not mean’t to be a sweeping generalization of people’s motives, but the struggle is real. Kuddos to those who can find meaningful and constructive ways to use social media to benefit their online communities.