Social networks—in addition to being virtual town squares that aid in connecting those who are distant—are often used as display cases for people to show off their lives. But sometimes instead of being focused on sharing and communion, they foster feelings of envy and jealousy.
That's why we'd like to talk to you today about “digital envy.”
When we speak of “digital envy,” we refer to that feeling that arises within us when we think that others have fewer problems or less pain because all we see are the beautiful landscapes they photograph and their smiling faces surrounded by friends…
How can we fight this awful feeling? Here are some simple tips:
1) Remember: no one is immune to suffering
Italian journalist Enzo Biagi, after interviewing the richest, most beautiful, famous, and powerful fellow Italians, concluded that there is no one—truly no one—worth envying. No one is immune to suffering. The first tip to combat envy (digital and otherwise) is to remember that we are all in the same boat: we all have to deal with our condition as vulnerable humans.
Let's not waste time listing all the reasons why others are more fortunate or better than us. Instead, let's commit to achieving goals that can bring us joy and satisfaction.
2) "Each of us is fighting a battle no one knows about”
Don't let appearances fool you. No one is always feeling 100%—not even those who only show their best moments on social media. Who doesn't experience hardship, disappointment, and other life problems?
The point is that we rarely flaunt our difficulties. It's easier to post a photo surrounded by friends, than to say how lonely we feel. Those who do just that are almost considered misfits. Social media don't really seem to leave room for weakness. We risk seeing others as competition. We constantly wonder who has the most fantastic life. But no one is as happy as they try to convey.
3) Even if you happen to be less happy than someone else, envy is not a solution
If indeed, for some reason, your friends or acquaintances are better off than you, know that envy bears no fruit. It doesn't help you in any way; it only makes things worse.
If you see someone who has achieved their goals, instead of envying them for it, try to understand what resources they have. Let go of your pride and accept help. There are people who do have beautiful, successful lives. There are people who get through challenges and hardships by showing true grit. Don't think, "I wish he were as sad and dejected as I am." Instead, ask yourself, "Is there something he/she has understood about life that eludes me?" Collaboration and sharing are much more fruitful than the dirt trail ahead of us, constructed by envy—especially if you find yourself in a difficult place.
4) Learn to be grateful
Envy can become a bad habit when you get used to complaining about what you lack, instead of being grateful for what you have. One day after another, you might come to consider yourself the most miserable person in the universe, despite having a whole list of reasons to be happy. It happens to all of us: we see people who face a litany of problems but know how to appreciate the good things in life… then we see people who complain constantly about how unlucky they are anytime they open their mouth. If we want to get better, we must train ourselves to say "thank you" every day for something. In doing so, we will slowly change our outlook and eventually be much happier.
5) Work on looking up to and respecting others
There is a passage from a letter of St. Paul that has always struck me: "Let each esteem others better than himself." Learn to see and recognize the good in others. Try to compliment a person when you recognize in them a true gift, an achievement, or something beautiful and good within them.
You will find that by doing so, not only will you not lose anything, but you will gain something: humility and appreciation, which make relationships more mature, profound, stable, beautiful. If you spend your days envying others and gossiping, you probably miss these positive attributes, making you so unhappy that you constantly envy others.