How to stop FOMO and envy on social media
Does it look like everyone else is having a better life than you? It's time for a wake up call.
Written by Dorothy Littell Greco
I had only been up for an hour, and thanks to Instagram, I’d already violated the 10th commandment three times.
- I coveted my friend’s trip of a lifetime (that she seems to take every six months)
- I covted a neighbor’s custom-made chicken coop and backyard garden; and finally,
- I coveted an acquaintance’s incredible New Year’s Eve party with hand-lettered place cards, stunning heirloom dishes and hundreds of dollars worth of fresh flowers.
Moya Sarner wrote, “We live in the age of envy. Career envy, kitchen envy, children envy, food envy, upper arm envy, holiday envy. You name it, there’s an envy for it.”
All thanks to social media. While it’s true that Instagram, Facebook and other platforms have the capacity to help us connect with our friends and family, they also have the potential to provoke envy, trigger comparison and ultimately divert our energy from what brings true life and lasting satisfaction.
Recognise your feelings of FOMO and envy
Recognizing when FOMO (fear of missing out) and envy are sucking us into their vortex (or domain, as it were) is essential.
Regardless of how rich and wonderful our lives actually are, someone else will always have a bigger, better version. Part of the danger of social media is that it flaunts that bigger, better version all day, every day.
When we can honestly admit that we feel worse about ourselves and our lives after snacking on social media, that should be akin to the yellow warning light appearing on the car’s dashboard. Depression and loneliness are other symptoms of social media overload.
Try engaging instead of snacking
When using social media, try engaging instead of snacking.
In a recent article in Duke University’s The Chronicle, Julia O’Brien encourages social media users to avoid passively scrolling through social media without meaningfully engaging with others.
Rather than simply adding emojis, take a moment to write a thoughtful response.
Remember that “When [we’re] browsing our newsfeed, observing everyone else’s happy outward posed image of themselves … we end up getting a one-sided view of other people’s lives.” As a result, continues O’Brien, “[We] don't have anything that resembles a normal human interaction.”
Focus on being real instead of gaining likes
While a stunning vacation photo might result in more likes, it’s our willingness to be vulnerable and imperfect that allows others to know and connect with us. That said, do be discerning when you post. Your loved ones — or employers — should not discover anything shocking or disturbing about you on social media.
"While a stunning vacation photo might result in more likes, it’s our willingness to be needy, vulnerable, and imperfect that allows others to know and connect with us."
It’s also important to stay in your own story. We can easily fall into comparison and envy when we forget how God has been and is currently at work in our own lives.
We all need to be mindful of how social media affects us. Spending time online is not morally wrong, but it might make it difficult for us to be known, connect with others, and enjoy the life we have. If that’s the case, we should adjust so that the media serves us rather than us serving the media.
Edited version of an original post by Dorothy Littell Greco from Biola University. Find out more about Biola University today.