I love social media. I love other people’s cute kid pics. I love seeing light-filled kitchens and delicious meals. I love when friends share funny or embarrassing stories. I especially love when people show the less pretty side of life because I resonate with that a lot.
Social media is doing a lot of good for a lot of people.
But what happens when it’s not doing a lot of good? What if you notice yourself becoming discontent in your own life, jealous of others, or angry because your spouse doesn’t do those things that everyone else’s seems to do?
Because that’s happening sometimes, isn’t it?
At first, I didn’t realize it was happening. I was busy liking pictures on Facebook, commenting on Instagram, and favoriting on Twitter. But occasionally, I wouldn’t like something, I’d just keep scrolling. Even though I liked whatever it was, I didn’t want the person to know I liked it. And I realized pretty quickly that it was because I was jealous.
One of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle, writes this about social media: “Social media is fine and good, but it rarely resembles real life. . . And we need to remember that often the reason some people feel the need to Instagram a perfectly filtered photo of themselves playing a board game with their four-year-old while drinking hot chocolate is because that’s the only time they’ve done that EVER. People love to show off their Disney vacation photos but often neglect to mention that they had to eat ramen noodles for three months to pay for it.”
Why is it so hard to remember that truth? And also, why do I get jealous of other people’s social media lives when I know for a fact it’s not all peaches and cream for them. Or for anyone, actually.
I would say the jealousy issues I struggled with in my twenties have subsided majorly since hitting my thirties. This phase in life has me more comfortable in my skin and learning what I truly need to make myself happy. Asking God for contentment and less wanting has had a lot to do with it also.
So what do we do when we follow someone on social media that makes us feel jealous, insecure, or less than? The easy answer is to stop following them, stop being their “friend,” or “hide” their news feed. The hard answer is you still need to deal with those thoughts and feelings because while it’s good to limit the temptation of jealousy, it will rear its ugly head somewhere else if you don’t tackle your struggles now.
I would like to say I do a pretty good job of this now that I’ve noticed my attitude and feelings. But truthfully, some days are better than others. When those ugly days make themselves known and I feel myself falling into thoughts of wishing away my life for others’ seemingly-perfect lives I just have to disengage; step away from Instagram for a few days; delete the Facebook app on my phone; plug my phone into the charger and ignore it for the afternoon.
And then I pray. I pray for contentment. I thank God for the millions of blessings in my life that I tend to ignore when I compare myself to others. I ask him to help me focus on things that truly matter like my family, my friends, my health. I ask for forgiveness for taking so many things for granted that others would love to have. And I pray to be less concerned with worldly possessions. I ask lots of big things and he’s faithfully showing himself in response.
I am still a work in progress.
But I don’t want to live a life filled with jealousy. I want to be happy and encouraging of others in their goodness and blessings. I don’t want to feel insecure because of something you have or some place you went or some life you lead that seems so much better than mine. I just don’t want to do that anymore.