There’s such a thing as ‘Facebook envy’. How ludicrous is that? You know what’s even more ludicrous? Research suggests this bizarre emotion correlates strongly with depression (University of Missouri, 2015). And what’s more? I’ve felt it.
Being somebody who worries, and somebody who gets nervous when they’re disliked, and somebody who spends a fairly weighty amount of time on the internet, it makes sense that this phenomenon would affect me. I think most of us, especially we ‘millennials’, have felt it. We see friends, or even just acquaintances, lapping up their weekends of parties, travels, kaleidoscopic cocktails and hardcore workouts, while we, almost certainly, are sat in our living rooms, in our beds, at our kitchen tables, surrounded by that overwhelming, 99% of life: the grey matter of our everyday. Is it any wonder we feel deflated?
But this is madness! The obvious trope comes to mind: we don’t air the dirty stuff in public. Of course these snippets of model life are never worth comparing to our own, realistic, nitty-gritty, unfiltered crap. Yet we do. Of course we do. The sad fact is that Facebook and Twitter (as well as others, I’m sure) are really great platforms for keeping in touch with the rest of the world, and we shouldn’t be forced to give them up by ‘envy’ – but it’s just too tempting to ignore, for some.
My heart is full of sickly clichés right now, but they’re truths: when did it become acceptable to stop living our own lives, instead spending them wondering why they aren’t as good as those in that picture, that snapchat, that status – they aren’t even real! I’ll admit along with anybody else that my tweets are polished! But they’re not… realistic. There’s nothing raw, or… practical, or… brave about them. So forget them. Not forget, there’s nothing wrong with a pithy status here and there. But… we shouldn’t care for them. Not really.
For me, besides this petty desire for liveliness, the real sting in the tail of Facebook envy is the potential it holds to warp relationships. It’s one thing to feel ignored by the 300 plus ‘friends’ you have online, but what about when the inevitable happens? When your friend of a decade begins a whole new life which you can only sit and observe from behind your glaring monitor? Do we ‘envy’ them? Potentially. In fact, definitely. And that sucks, because for the really sensitive people out there, the ones who fret, suddenly the double-whammy of feeling angry and bitter about others, then horrified about those feelings in themselves, bring an infinite, hostile, lonely, self-loathing state of decay. All because of Facebook.
Well, not all; this happened before Zuckerberg, we know. But we’re talking about a pandemic here. A virtual disease.
And there’s only one cure, really. We could choose to nurse these horrible, parasitic feelings indefinitely, and they would bleed us dry. Or we could decide to be sensible, to remember that our friends, those we care about, either care for us, or they don’t. We can only do our best to be civil, loving and considerate. But should we jump through digital circus hoops simply to keep afloat in the World Wide Waters? Screw that. We have our happiness to attend to.