Do You Ever Suffer from Facebook Envy?

by Janelle Harris

Brandon got accepted into a PhD program.
Maurice has an adorable toddler who’s learning how to walk.
Rosalyn is expecting another beautiful bundle of joy.
Tomika is traveling the world and posting pics of her exotic adventures.
Tiffanie got engaged and is flashing a gorgeously unique ring.
Emily bought a palatial new house with her husband.
Sheedah just finished her master’s degree.
Cheresa is a newlywed after eloping to Vegas with her boo thang.
Jeremy and his wife are in the hospital celebrating the birth of their new baby.
And Janelle finally tracked down this nail color I’ve been waiting to be restocked at the local Rite Aid. Hot diggity damn.

I don’t know about your Facebook friends, but mine are consistently doing the darn thing. There’s always some amazing life event unfolding, some tremendous accomplishment to post about, some heartwarming feat of personal triumph to share with the world, greeting me at the top of my newsfeed. I click like, like, like.

And I do like it. I don’t begrudge anybody their successes and headline-making news. I get excited when folks are living out the glamorous life, especially people I know well enough to have witnessed the journey and the sacrifices, patience and energy it took to get to it. But I’d be lying to myself and to y’all if I didn’t admit that I have to have a sense of humor when I log onto Facebook sometimes. A lot of times. Because boy, that timeline can make me feel just an itty bitty eensy weensy bit like an inadequate loser.

It’s a good thing my life isn’t tangible because I’d nudge it with my foot and ask it if plans on ever doing anything impressive. Like, ever? I struggle with comparing myself to other folks or, at the very least, operating by this internal timeline that reminds me, in a dark, whispery voice, that I’m not anywhere close to the place I thought I’d be at this age. Facebook isn’t really softening that realization. I don’t expect my friends to stop splashing their milestones and achievements across their pages. I’m just chomping at the bit to start having some of my own.

I know social media is all smoke and mirrors, all what you want people to see and know and none of that nasty real-life sludge that gets churned out in the process. But it sure would be nice to have something, anything monumental to rah rah about, not even to post on The Book but to call my mom and my besties to ooh and ahh over. Until then, I guess I’ll just live vicariously through my real-life and Facebook friends. Let the baby shower invites, housewarming details and engagement party reminders fill my inbox. Let the precious baby pics, wedding day photo shoots and graduation announcements populate my timeline. I’m ready, finger on the trigger to click like, like, like.

So…do you ever have Facebook envy?

  • dirtychai

    Glad to know I’m not the only one. I deleted my Facebook because I felt the time spent looking at other people would be better spent creating my own social media photo opportunities.

  • Ms. Johnson

    Well,

    I’m glad to know I am not alone on this one! Truthfully, the only thing that causes me to have FB envy are the announcements of expecting their 1st child….I’m in my 30′s, so I’ll wait until the time is ready for me…

  • Chrissy

    Do I have facebook envy?

    Yes. That is why I deleted it.

    I just try to go on about my life on my own timeline.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericaw1 Erica Woodridge

    Yes, all the time…so I limit how much time I spend on there

  • Laugh

    I’ve heard of this FB envy many times. Makes me glad that I don’t have FB.

  • Celeste

    Used too, but not anymore. Once I realized that people lie and make things bigger than what they are, it barely fazes me. Also, if you have to go on facebook and boast all the time, do you really have anyone that you can do that to in person? I had a lot of things I could have boasted about, but I keep it mostly private and tell people that really do matter. You don’t want to tell the world everything. There are thieves and opportunists on facebook and such.

    And I don’t think I will ever put any of the kids that I will have in the future, pics online. It’s adorable, but that is too much.

  • Yaenelle

    It happens to me too! Every so often I post a pic or status that ppl comment on and like but I still have to control that feeling of inadequacy that rears its head when I look at other ppl’s (especially those who travel often). Keep in mind that most ppl only post the great stuff and omit the realness, even lie about it! I try to remember that what’s for me is for me and will arrive on God’s time not mine. Once you’re putting in the work, sacrifice and prayer, your life will grow and give you amazing moments too. Patience is an easy word to say but not to live by.

  • C

    I used to have Facebook envy, until I realized that people are always going to post the best highlights of their life for the world to see. Plus, when friends post all the vacation photos, births/pregnancy announcements, marriages, weddings, and lovey-dovey shout outs to boyfriend/girlfriends…all you’re seeing is the good results of the hard times. You aren’t seeing the 60+ hours per week they put in at heir horrible job to go on a couple of vacations, or the 3 years it took to conceive a baby, or the long nights up with their 2 week old newborn, or the frustration that their 16 year old is causing them, or the stress they went through before they became happy in their relationship, or the havoc they are putting their body through to party hard every single weekend.

  • ?!?

    I used to have Facebook envy, but now I barely check Facebook nowadays.

  • apple

    i was jealous of facebook friends..most of those people are from my past. i don’t want to know about their success or anything about me and what i’m doing because i am a failure and i dont want anyone to know. in fact when people try to find out what i’m doing i try to send out messages that i have passed away but that lie doesn’t surf when there is social media.. every now and then i would check to see how old associates and honestly envy them doing well, especially when they bad people but i deleted my facebook..however i am jealous of people on instagram and twitter..

  • edub

    ALL of this. Of course, people are not going to put up the negatives like, I just failed a course or I’m 10 pounds overweight. With facebook, you can craft the perfect life. I have a facebook page but don’t post much due to the overwhelming negativity I feel.

    I’m not envious because I’m just not that invested. I have my own life and my own problems…can’t be bothered.

  • T.

    Exactly! You never really know what the inside of someone else’s life is like. And it’s fully possible that some of them are envying you just as much as you’re envying them.

  • http://idreamofspeed.blogspot.com E.M.S.

    I’ve never really had envy, but Facebook does remind me from time to time that I could be doing more. Now that I’m actually out that making things happen, I’m not phased by what others post because I’m getting mine. The accomplishments of others should be used as motivation rather than a source jealously.

    And as for those who deleted their accounts, I think that’s a bit extreme. Your experience with Facebook is based on how you use it. If you’re not happy with it, make some changes. It isn’t just about people showcasing their lives, you can also keep up with your interests on pages, join groups, promote yourself and your business with pages, etc. Try doing things differently first because you give up on something.

  • Patience

    Possibly. But after awhile it turns into annoyance that people have crafted a life for themselves specifically for Facebook.

  • Jazzmene Ford

    OMG this article is right on time. I was just going through this last week. Looking at all my college friends get big job promotions, relocate, graduate from grad school, and travel the world made these feelings of inadequacy overwhelm me. Kind of made me feel like I wasnt doing enough, wasnt moving fast enough and my life is rather mundane compared to theirs. But just like someone mentioned before people will only post the great things that happen in their lives, we are not aware of the struggles they have to face to accomplish those things. So you can’t easily be fooled. I constantly have to remind myself to have patience. Things will happen in due time. Maybe its just their season right now but mine is definitely coming. If anything I use their posts as motivation to have faith and aim to accomplish the things I set out to do.

  • http://erinwrites.wordpress.com Erin Perkins

    I’m right there with you. The less time I spend focusing on what other people do, the more time I can spend doing me. I like to think I’m so busy living my life, I don’t have time to post on FB. That attitude helps me not to get caught up with others lives in comparison to mine.

    Thank you Janelle. You nailed it.

  • Blue

    Which is why I keep my posting about my life to a bare minimum. Only my off-line friend know about my life.
    Some people I cab honestly say I’m happy for their success & some people are just trying to make up a life that they really don’t have. There are also ppople who want pity parties when things aren’t going their way. Then they are the annoying people who have to post their every move as if any of us care. “Going to work…Going to bed…Going to the toilet” Get a life, a real one.

  • Megira

    I can totally relate to what you’re saying. For me it’s a little different though. I feel like looking at my friends Facebook posts makes me feel a little alienated. I mean sometimes they post stuff that you want for yourself. Other times they post stuff where it’s not so much that you want that as you’re worried that it’ll be harder to relate to your peer group as a whole because a greater proportion of people have done X.

    This is especially true when it’s more judgemental people who are posting achievements. It’s one thing when someone who is humane, thoughtful, and compassionate posts about something that you haven’t done. Other times though it’s someone who, while ultimately nice, is kind of the type to be a jerk about people who aren’t [in a relationship, married, has a fancy job, hasn't gone on a trip around the world, etc.]. I think that’s an important distinction to make.

    I have to be honest with you though. While I’m happy for all of my friends’ accomplishments and positive experiences, I tend to not look at them on Facebook. There’s just something about it that makes me feel bad about my life, which I’m normally pretty happy in. Perhaps that indicates something bad about my character but I’m not too worried about it. When people tell you in person, it gives their experiences a context that doesn’t usually make me feel bad. Anyway, good article.

  • kenzy

    i wont lie i have facebook envy.. it seems like most are always doing something great and productive and i feel like a loser, i only want simple stuff and it seems like others are getting everything i want and moving along and im just stuck still here. i am doing things in my life im just not sitting aroun

  • Megira

    I think travel is a special example for me cos, although I have traveled once or twice, in general I don’t really like to travel. I only really want to go to a few places. I’d go to most others, but it’d have to be for work.

    The thing that makes me uneasy when I see people posting about their traveling on facebook is that, in practice, I’ve found people who travel tend to develop a bit of an attitude. I hope I’m not stirring up any controversey, but, to me, travel ain’t that deep. You go someplace and see how other people live. If it appeals to you and you want to live like that, that’s one thing. Otherwise, it’s just a novelty and a little bit of culture. That’s valuable but there are loads of ways of getting that.

    For example, I’d rather talk with someone who learned to try to cook Italian food from cookbooks for a month than someone who went to Italy for a month. The cooking experience may not be authentically Italian but the person’s experiences learning and trying to cook would be. Thus I feel like sometimes facebook posts concern me cos I wonder if people are gonna judge those who haven’t done XYZ more harshly than before.

  • Megira

    LOL yeah I definitely hear the part about not wanting to read about how d-bags are doing well. I have some acquaintances that are ultimately decent people but they grate on me. So, while I’m happy that things are going well for them, I don’t really want to hear about it. Oh well, I hide people’s feeds at the drop of a hat.

  • http://theblackgirloncampus.blogspot.com Peace

    same!

  • LaNubiana

    “Jealousy is comparison. And we have been taught to compare, we have been conditioned to compare, always compare. Somebody else has a better house, somebody else has a more beautiful body, somebody else has more money, somebody else has a more charismatic personality. Compare, go on comparing yourself with everybody else you pass by, and great jealousy will be the outcome; it is the by-product of the conditioning for comparison.”

    “Comparison is a very foolish attitude, because each person is unique and incomparable. Once this understanding settles in you, jealousy disappears.” – OSHO

  • http://gravatar.com/lorrainyday Ashley

    I have developed facebook envy. I just graduated university so everyone is posting about new jobs, traveling, getting into grad/med school etc etc. I never used to consider myself an envious person, so I am working on overcoming this!

    I actually realized that this envy goes BOTH ways.

    Yes, sometimes people posting their accomplishments makes me feel inadequate. But, ALSO if I see that I am doing better than others, it boosts my confidence! This is just as bad. Now I always asks myself….Am I makings this post to get “likes” and approval that will make me feel better about myself? By asking this I realized that some of the stuff I was sharing is excessive and that my own self-approval and appreciation should be enough.

  • http://gravatar.com/nolakiss16 binks

    Agreed!

  • Jinx

    This is one of the reasons why Im slowly getting off of facebook.

  • http://luckynabatanz7e.blogspot.co.uk/ star

    Facebook does sometimes make me feel inadequate when comparing my achievements that of my Facebook friends but it is also a great motivator. It inspires me to try and attain things I have always wanted because I can see other people do the same. Love this website.

  • GlowBelle

    Not going to lie, it’s of the reasons why I’ve been slowly backing away from social media as a whole. I agree with others who’ve said that you only read the good stuff, not the struggle, but I’m sort of embarrassed at my unemployment situation and stagnated state and it does hurt a little when I see friends get to do the things that I wish I could accomplish, but can’t because of my situation at current. Backing away from Twitter and closing my Facebook account a few years ago has actually been a relief to me. I think I was wasting too much time ‘snooping’ and comparing my life to others and not creating a life for myself. I found out, once I minimized or fully deleted my social media accounts, I have even MORE time to do other things than scroll through everybody’s statuses and the like. I also had to remember that sometimes people fabricate stuff online, not always everyone is telling the truth. Social media can be hurtful and helpful, especially to someone like me who has depression and anxiety issues, so I’m learning to take most of what I see with a grain of salt and to not base my whole life on it.

  • http://stimulatemymind.wordpress.com hpymrzsimmons

    I think that often we believe that just because people post great accomplishments on their FB timeline that they have prefect lives. Sure, all those successes are concentrated on that one website, with all of your family and friends on one social networking platform, but don’t forget that you have accomplished things in your life as well. You are probably the subject of envy for someone else. For example, one of your friends may be a doctor, but they work so much that they wish they could downsize from the lifestyle they have in order to encourage starving relationships they may be having in their life. Or, a friend may have just purchased a house, but now they are so strapped for money that they wish they stayed in their apartment. We have to take the time to pat ourselves on the back for what we have done. Especially since, as individuals we know that the accomplishments we achieve often come with a high price. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Some people may envy you because you have the opportunity to write for this online magazine. They wish that their creative voice could be read on a daily basis by thousands of readers. We will never be happy with what we have if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Trust me, I know that is easier said than done.

    You should treat yourself to something nice for what you have achieved so far and toast to where you will be in another 5 years. ;)

  • Pseudonym

    hahaha! I don’t have facebook envy but there’s this ONE THING that’s been getting to me lately (if I can just keep it real for a sec):

    If one more MEAN, DRAMALICIOUS woman with a HORRIBLE personality gets engaged,

    I’m gonna kirk out.

    (I know! I should not feel this way! I am disappointed in myself. But it’s the truth! hahaha)

  • Egypt

    Am I a little envious?

    Sometimes…But I have to remind myself that things happen on God’s time and not my time. It pays to be patient, because believe it or not I may not be ready for the gifts that God has in store for me. The best I can do is to prepare myself for what’s to come, and stop worrying about what everyone else has. Besides, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

  • Bree

    I avoid facebook for this reason. Every now and then, I will “reactivate” just to snoop…but I am in medical school, I have enough stress, and would rather not feel inadequate 24-7.

  • Eri

    Do I have FB envy? All day, every damn day. I have to tell myself that these same people have problems just like I do. And of course I am happy for them too, but, it’s just so hard when all you see are achievements and not the struggle it took to get them there. ‘Cause I’m right in the middle of my struggle. And thank you, Egypt, for what you said about things happening in God’s time and not my time. It’s been a little whisper in my mind that maybe I’m not ready for some of the things I’m coveting, and maybe God’s got another plan for me. Patience is tough.

  • p

    I deleted mine for the same, reason spent more time envying others instead of doing whats necessary to make my own dreams come true. #waste of time bc everyone has something to feel thankful n blessed for.

  • p

    I think it breeds ungratefulness even on our worst day we may be faring better then someone in prison or who has no running water or heat when we stop focusing on ourselves others and what they have and how we can b of service to otherd the less we think about what we lack. Looking at others shouldnt b our focus.im sure you hV many blessings and gifts. Thank God as a habit and envy wont stick around

  • Simone L

    I’m not gonna lie; I have it too. Oh, your husband tells you to pack a bag for the weekend? Oh, you got a house? How nice. I just closed my FB. Because I always say I can’t focus on me while I look at you. That’s why horses have blinders. Another reason I closed my fb account was the folks who post all the nasty stuff about their (in)significant other, and then when they get back together, you wanna act like he put the glass slipper on your damn foot. So, I’m gonna worry about me and pay attention to what God has for me. Because even though I keep the good and bad off of fb, it can blur one’s vision.

  • http://gravatar.com/tp72 LA Red

    I complained on Fb about my 17 yr old putting me through the ringer after all the sacrifices I have made for both of my kids and why couldn’t they be like other people’s kids that are doing the damn thing. My cousin told me to KITFO. “Girl, don’t believe the grass is greener in their yard. I seen them painting it last night.” That said it all…

  • Anon26

    All of my friends are in medical school and here I am trying to get into post baccs… To me you’re where I want to be, I’m envious of YOU lol you should NOT feel inadequate.

  • http://@learnorleave Andrea

    The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. – Steven Furtick.

  • Andrea

    The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. – Steven Furtick

  • MzKane

    You’re in medical school, you shouldn’t feel inadequate. I wish I would have gone to pharmacy school. Now I’m too invested in a whole different field to go back.

  • MzKane

    Don’t wait too long.

  • MzKane

    I travel with PBS lol.

  • MzKane

    Graduating from a university is something to be very proud of. I have a year to go myself. I do definitely understand where you are coming from.

  • Mina

    I don’t have facebook envy. I used to when all I did was stay on Facebook when I was 18 because everyone was in a relationship. But Facebook is pretty boring and I’m over that insecurity of not having a boyfriend or spouse. It’s not needed or necessary for me to have a fulfilling life. Neither are OOTD, Cars, Jewelry, and other random things people flash on FB to get likes. I’ll like it and say it’s cute and move on about my day lol. Same thing for Tumblr and Pinterest too. If I like something, I’ll find a way to make it myself but I don’t spend all my energy being envious over material things. And so what if some has a Ph.D or is pursuing their master’s degree? I’m on my way to get that too. In due time, patience is key. I see everyone posting cars and stuff on Facebook, but I’m pretty cool just taking the bus or carpooling with someone as long as I have transportation. I don’t care about the car, I just care about getting back and forth to where I need to go. So no, I don’t have Facebook envy or social media envy because there’s nothing ever worth getting envious about. Envy just makes you more anxious, angry, causes you to stress and worry, makes you sad, and why would you want to bring all those emotions onto yourself? Just be at peace, be persistent, and positive.

  • AmazingFace

    Not only is the grass not always greener, but unless you’re prepared to water the grass, mow it, pick up the clippings, don’t jump! These social networks are just programming us to commit one of the seven deadly sins, ENVY.

  • Cocochanel31

    I could care less what other people are doing! I just don’t have time!! If I don’t know you personally I could reallllly care less what your FB status says and if I do know you I’m soo happy that great things are happening in your life! My own life is way too busy to read too much into others’ facebook updates.

  • http://gravatar.com/lorrainyday Ashley

    thank you!

  • Ms. Write

    Yes yes yes! I thought I was the only one who felt that way. I’m 27 and have been on Facebook since I was 20. I think I feel some type of way when I see people I went to college with or exes getting married. And it’s not because I want to get married anytime soon. I think it’s because reality is sinking in that I’m getting older and my party all night days are behind me lol. But I do get travel envy when I see people’s photos from Puerto Rico, Jamaica etc. I haven’t been anywhere all year!

    When I feel this happening to myself I just log off for a while (maybe even a couple of days) to get my own life in order instead of concentrating on others!

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