The Facebook Envy Effect

In Uncategorized by Debra Fileta42 Comments

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and I noticed a post written by a friend of mine about contentment. It struck a chord with me, so much so that I asked her to share more of her thoughts with us at TrueLoveDates.com. I’m so excited to share my space with Adrienne today in her guest post- because her words apply to so many of us at different stages of our lives. I know it this post will encourage you. And don’t forget to comment and leave her some love below! Blessings! — Debra

+++

Over the past few weeks, a post has appeared repeatedly in my Facebook newsfeed. It’s looked like this: A friend writes, “It was a great year. Thanks for being part of it.” And then a montage of photos from his/her year follows. Have you seen this?

I’ve heard it said that our Facebook and Instagram culture creates an unrealistic view of people’s lives because we often see only the “pretty” or exciting parts, but not the hard or painful things. This can lead to discontentment with our own lives. I admit I have been experiencing this as I’ve seen people’s “year” on Facebook. While it is neat to see the highlights of friends’ years, it can also be hard.

I have looked at other people’s 2014 and have experienced comparison, envy and discontentment. If I’m totally honest, I haven’t even looked at most people’s collection of pictures because the cover photo alone (often a wedding picture) has triggered enough emotional reactions by itself.

I have felt bad about my year and my life because of what was, and more so wasn’t, part of mine. Truth be told, I would have really liked my 2014 to have ended with a boyfriend, fiancé or husband. (And I’m not picky—I would have taken any of the 3!) The holidays, and the end of another year, make me painfully aware of what I still don’t have. And the pain and the feeling of being alone are magnified when it seems like everyone else is getting to experience what I want. Maybe I’m the only one who has struggled with this comparison and discontentment, but I doubt it, and that’s why I’m writing this.

As I’ve journeyed this road more times than I’d like to admit, I have found that God wants to meet me in these painful places. While there has been pain because of deferred hope, unmet expectations and unfulfilled longings in my heart, there is still hope.

1. There is hope because of who God is:

God continually reminds me that He is a good, loving, trustworthy God who I can trust with my life. His plans and timing are perfect, and everything He does in my life is because of His deep love for me. My 2014 unfolded as He wanted it to; it is part of the story He is writing for me. It is good because He is good.

2. There is hope because God does not waste our pain:

God is purposeful in all He does. And He uses pain to bring about good in our lives. One of the biggest ways I have seen God use pain for good in my life is to grow my intimacy with Him. I am continually learning that I don’t have to walk through heartache alone. Not only is God always with me, but He promises that He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). When I am hurting, and run to Him, I experience a depth in our relationship that I wouldn’t otherwise.

3. There is hope because it can be different:

My story doesn’t have to be one of constant comparison, envy and discontentment. It can be different. For over a year, God has been teaching me to be more grateful. It has been deeply impactful because as I’ve chosen to give thanks for my circumstances, He has given me greater contentment and joy. I love the quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy” because I have experienced this to be so true. In contrast, I think that gratitude is the restorer of joy.

And so, while it is easy to compare and be discontent, I want to choose to be grateful. As 2015 is beginning, I want to recognize all that God has done in my life– the gifts He has given me, the challenges He’s taken me through, the painful things that have caused me to be desperate for Him, and most importantly, the reality that He allows me to know Him, to be in relationship with Him, and walk through this life with Him– and say, “Thank You.”

What about you? Are you entering 2015 with regret over what is or isn’t part of your life? Or are you entering this new year with gratitude? Comparison, envy and discontentment rob us of joy. But there is great hope and joy that come from an attitude of thankfulness.

Adrienne Minor is on staff with Cru and has served in the campus ministry for 9 years. She spent the last 5 years in Orlando, but is now “in transition” as she prepares to move to New York City to reach millennials there. She loves talking with women about eternal perspective, walking by faith and dating/singleness. She really, really likes sports, pop culture and international foods.

[Additional Resources: For more on becoming the best version of yourself, making the most of singleness, and finding true love check out the book True Love Dates or visit our Top 10 relationship posts of 2014!]

Comments

  1. Thanks for putting this into words Adrienne! Your article really articulates what I have been thinking also. It is amazing how we view Facebook (and all the other sites) as what peoples lives are all about, when in fact all we really see is the positive things that they want us to see.

    Like you, I’ve looked at some of my friends getting married, in relationships and it really brings home that I am single and don’t want to be. It can be very hard, especially when Christmas rolls around and I am alone.

    Reading what you say about where God has brought you has been a reflection of my own walk over the last year. After a couple years of turmoil and growth, God has me right where He wants me. 😉

    Ending 2014 seeing the positive in my life and being grateful to God for all He has given me. I get to start 2015 with this more positive outlook on life. Not because God kept the pain from me, but because He took my bad choices and turned them into something (and someone) good.

    Jesus was with me through everything, even when I couldn’t see it.

    This year, like you said, I plan to be grateful for what God has given me and use everyone else’s life as a comparison for what I don’t have. I know God has great plans for me.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Greg! It’s cool that God has been taking you on a similar journey as me. I enjoyed reading how God has worked in your life, especially by giving you assurance that He was with you always. That’s so true!

  2. I generally do not look at Facebook except occasionally when my sister is looking through hers. Since I have no friends to really speak of, I’d have no one to add except maybe a few acquaintances. Things like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram always conjures up for me the many things missing in my life so it’s painful to look at, so I choose not to torture myself by looking at others’ profiles. I’m happy for them and I know I shouldn’t envy them but it’s so tough not to when you’re perpetually reminded of the things, experiences, and people missing in your life.

    1. Author

      I think you are wise to keep things out of your life that are only going to conjure pain! Appreciate you sharing.

    2. Thank you for sharing, Sophie. I pray God will allow you to experience His deep love and goodness even as you wish things would be different in your life.

  3. I won’t lie… I still sometimes envies people who are in a happy romantic relationship, but I try not to.
    I know it’s not right. God has an individual plan for each and every single one of us. I’m probably not meant to be in a relationship right now. I still have a lot to learn about myself and about my relationship with God. Deep down inside, I do realize that I want to enter a romantic relationship with a strong faith and knowing myself… which means that I’m probably not ready yet. I have to be patient… And I know I owe it to God, because He knows He’s been patient with me!

    The first time I realize that I was being unreasonable in my envy and discontentment is when one of my friends started going out with a guy for the first time. We had been friends since high school; in fact we were a group of girls who had been friends in high school. And this friend in particular was kind of the “baby of the group”. You see she was so innocent and kind of naive in a good way, she didn’t even wished for a boyfriend. Then one day, when we were 18, she told us she had met a guy! I couldn’t believe it! She was the first in our group to have a boyfriend and she was the only one who didn’t wished for it. I was so jealous and I actually thought “Why would she get a boyfriend before me?”. I’m not proud of saying this, because after thinking that I felt so bad. I couldn’t believe I was thinking like that! She was my friend, I should have been happy for her and instead I only thought of myself! Of course, I went to see her and apologized for the whole thing.

    I promised myself never to get so jealous ever again. I saw an ugly side of myself that day… Today, this friend of mine has a new boyfriend and she is very happy with him, and I am happy for them. He is a great guy and she is happy and it’s all I want for her! I still wish sometimes that I could have the same kind of relationship, but I choose to believe that my turn will come eventually when God will see it fit. For now, I just ask Him for help in my time of waiting (and preparing) for what will come next 🙂

    1. Author

      I love your honesty and sincerity, Samantha. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re so right saying it’s not a one-time struggle, but something we have to continually bring to God. I think that’s the amazing part about it all- because He continues to use these moments to grow our love and intimacy for Him. May He fill your life in every way!!!!!!!!

    2. Samantha, thanks for sharing your story! I pray that as you continue to walk with the Lord, and struggles and envy arise, you would run to Him and rely on Him. He is working things for good in your life and He has the best plans for you. And He will transform your heart as you trust Him. That’s not to say your desires are bad– they’re not. It’s just that God will use times of struggle to make you more like Jesus as you depend on Him. I like what you said about asking for help in your time of waiting and preparing. I do think God uses seasons of waiting to grow our faith, character and relationship with Him in preparation for the next season.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. Was joking the other day with a girlfriend of mine, paging through my instagram account how “perfect” my life seems. And how the painful parts of my life are neatly airbrushed out. I’m learning to understand and accept as a single person I am whole. And my life is where I need to be for this season, above all GOd is in control. Always.

    1. Author

      I agree. We all do it to some level. “Airbrushed out” is such a good way of saying it, Ayanda. God is still in control, through the joys and the pains. And He’s still so good!!!!!

    2. Thanks for your comment, Ayanda! Your conversation with your friend is insightful about our human tendency to want to make everything in our lives look good. And you are so right– God is always in control! And in His power, He’s working all things for good in our lives!

  5. Thanks Adrienne, very wise words. An attitude of thankfulness and contentment will change ones perspective. There is a thought, “what if you were to wake up tomorrow with only the things you gave thanks for yesterday?”

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with payer and supplication with thanksgiving….. and the peace of God which passes all understanding will fill your heart Philippians 4:6-7.

    Godliness with contentment is great gain.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jessy! I’ve been challenged often by that first quote. And I love the Bible verse you included from Philippians 4. It has encouraged me and calmed my heart many times.

  6. Good article Adrienne! What helps me is to be realistic. The pictures tell only a small part of the story. We don’t know the tears, struggles and pain behind them. If I would put my wedding picture on fb would people know the long, hard years of waiting? If you see a graduate, would you know the sleepless nights, the hours and hours of studiyng? Or a big happy family picture, would it tell about the the quarells, hurt, prodigals etc? And what about vacation pictures, saving is hard stuff, lol. So keeping in mind that it’s just a picture and not the whole story helps to keep things in perspective. Thankfulness is key! God bless!

    1. Thanks for your insight, Rachel! You’re so right, and it’s a good reminder to me!

  7. I love that Adrienne is about to move to NYC to reach out to millenials! How wonderfully exciting. And thanks to her for this post, which reminds us to focus on the only important thing : God’s character and love in all things.

    1. Thanks for your comment, J! I’m glad God used this post to remind you of His character and love!

  8. Thanks Adrienne, great article I do not visit facebook or many other social media sites,because most all of my family and friends are married and i would prefer not to see all these nice things going on in their life such as outings with thier kids or grandkids since I am single. I have learned to Always focus on God and be thankful and content because God has blessed me with Everything. God bless!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Vince! It seems like God has taught you some really good things!

  9. Wow! Reading that post, I felt like you have heard every conversation I’ve had with older friends and mentors at church over the past year! Facebook, not instagram as much, has really lead to my deepening discontentment. So much so, that one of my New Years resolutions was to only check facebook once a day, and only check my personal messages and notifications. I have not sat and scrolled through facebook since. I have noticed a big difference in my attitude and thought process. I have also been reading “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow and thats made a difference as well. There is so much truth and power to this blog and really highlighted what I have made a conscious effort to add to my daily life. I also started the #365grateful challenge several months ago where I post a photo of something I’m grateful for each day. That has really helped me see God’s blessings in my day to day life. I would encourage anyone struggling with discontentment to give it a try. Over time, it does help increase your gratitude. Thanks so much, Adrienne, for helping me see that I’m not the only one who has struggled with this!

    1. Brittany, thank you for your comment! It is encouraging to me. I think your resolution is awesome, and I love that is has helped to change your attitude! I have not read that book yet, but I’ve heard it’s great and I really want to. I also love that you’re doing the #365grateful challenge. What a cool, tangible way to recognize all the great things God is doing in your life. It seems like God has been working significantly in your life to bring you to a place of deeper gratitude. I love it!

  10. Thanks Adrienne. You hit the nail on the head with this one. I found this year end to be particularly difficult – ringing in a new year trying to be grateful for all God has given me over this past year, and the growth I’ve seen in myself – and yet struggling because another year has passed by and my relationship status hasn’t changed. I’d also like to say that it isn’t just when people are posting picture books from their amazing year, that I find myself comparing, but whenever I hit those lonely slumps social media only makes those wounds fester. However, each day when I intentially spend time with Him, I empty myself of these negative thoughts, envy and self doubt, and instead fill myself with his grace and goodnes.. So thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Alicia! I’m sorry that the end of this past year was hard for you. I can certainly relate to what you wrote. But I love what you said about how spending time with the Lord changes things. That’s so true!

  11. Thank you. I needed that. You have helped me choose to live a life of gratitude and remember God is good. His joy comes in the morning. A new day has begun☀️

    1. Thank you for your comment, Linda! I love what you said because it is so true. And I’m glad that my writing could be an encouragement to you. Thanks for letting me know!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this! Over the end of 2014 it was really hard for me to see facebook filled with friends talking about how great their year had been, when for me and my family it had been a difficult time. There were disappointments and injuries, but those paled in comparison to the tragic and sudden loss of my Dad. I admit that I did feel much envy towards those whose year looked so great from the outside.
    But your article reminds me of the truth about who God is, and that He still loves us. You, like many of my other Christian friends, have reminded me that God can use anything for good. And He already has begun to I know, although we’re seeing it slowly, like the very first rays of light after a long and dark night. Although my plans have changed, God has brought about good things in my new situation. I’ve developed closer friendships with family members, and even though I’m at a different school than I thought, God has blessed my first semester there. I’ve found a wonderful group of Christian friends at my new church, and also had some incredible opportunities in my sport. But the most emotional part of all has been the people who are now searching for Christ because of watching me in wake of this. Two friends have already shown much interest, and although they haven’t accepted Him yet, I know they are searching. Both times I’ve cried, tears of joy and sadness and wonder. I will never understand why it had to be my dad, why now, the list continues. But I know God works in all things, and I can have hope in Him, no matter what. Thank you for reminding me of this truth!

    1. Kirsten, thank you for sharing about your life and family. I am so sorry for your loss. I, too, have lost my dad, so I know something of that pain. There are no sufficient words, but I pray you would continue to experience God’s presence, love, and goodness in your life. I am encouraged to hear about the ways God has been using this tragedy for good, and I pray He continues to do so. I am praying right now for your two friends, that they would accept Jesus soon. And I pray God would continue to give you hope!

  13. Am always encouraged by all these posts and comments…
    I only check my Facebook once a day on my computer and not on my phone, and the soul purpose is keep up with what is go on around the world and with friends that I don’t have their numbers.
    Everyone have a personal battle they are fighting in secret so I use that to console myself and minimize my level of jealous or envy of my friends. Anything that would make me question God’s process in my life I try to stay away from it.

    1. Thanks, Richie! I’m glad you were encouraged. I think you’re wise to limit your time on Facebook, as well as avoiding things that make you question God’s work in your life.

  14. Great post!

    No doubt FB is a great platform for us to connect with friends and others in our times, it can also be addictive and a huge time waster. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I ‘stalk’ people on FB and hours can just drift past easily. Its not only unproductive, all the envy/comparison/jealousy can take place unknowingly and these are dangerous zones to thread into.

    We just talking about fasting in my cellgroup yesterday and one of the them is Facebook fasting. I think its a good idea, for the sake of protecting our mind and thoughts. Turn off all FB notifications and maybe just log in once a week or bi-weekly, instead of everyday.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dith! I think fasting from Facebook is a really good idea, too. Your comment is challenging me to evaluate the time I spend on Facebook.

  15. My greatest pain is seeing those who are my mates having a healthy relationship than I am,even when they do tell me I have good heart,december 2014 wasn’t a good experience for me, the lady I loved so much started having a change of attitude towards me due to a issue she had with my family, and whenever I check my facebook and blackberry messenger and I see my friends post and pictures of having a happy relationship it saddens my heart, I have always been hurt in d relationship I go into and this is because I love more than they love me, I depend on them for my own joy, and this is making me not to really believe in myself I need a help seriously, I pray God will heal my heart and help me love myself more and to believe in my own self

    1. I am sorry to hear that you have experienced much pain through relationships. I pray, too, that God would heal your heart, and that you would experience a deeper relationship with Him– the only One who loves perfectly and will never hurt you.

  16. Love this post Adrienne…thank you for reminding me that I’m not the only one that suffers from Facebook envy!!! I am cutting way back on Facebook this year for that reason. God Bless you as you bless others 🙂

  17. I am so glad that people are starting to talk openly about this! Great word!!!

  18. I really enjoyed reading your article Adrienne. I’d like to key in on one of the areas you spoke of. I found myself experiencing the same perspective as you at the beginning of 2015 but with a little bit more: Truth be told for me is by the end of 2014 I would’ve loved to have a boyfriend, fiancee’, husband or even a “Practice” date at this point. A practice date is one you go on when you may not be so interested in the person, but you know you can learn more about yourself and men in general if you go.

    I cried out to the Lord at the beginning of 2015 because I felt myself feeling faint. I had released so much faith in 2014 that I would meet someone special; I had declared it, believed it and was ready to
    receive….then 2015 came and it hadn’t happened. I said “Lord, I don’t want to go all the way through 2015 like I did in 2014 and end up with the same result. I asked him “Lord, what do I do?” The Lord so kindly told me to “Keep on believing” and then so lovingly said, “You’re about to press into the promise”. Those words literally reignited my faith and liberated me from the faint feeling I had. I am again exercising strong faith in God and believing I will come together with someone for me. I understand so well that the only thing that moves God is our faith; he’s touched by our pain but moved by our faith, so I will continue to release it.

    One other very positive thing I began last year is I moved on the desire to make a difference. I said if I can’t yet get myself connected with someone, maybe I can help someone else get connected. I know a number of strong christian females and to my surprise, I knew more strong christian males than I was aware of, who want to meet someone for themselves. So, I connected one couple last year, they met and didn’t really hit it off but both were appreciative of the experience. I am currently in the process of connecting another couple who I think will be either good together or will have a good experience meeting one another and I have a third couple in mind to connect.

    Thank you for sharing Adrienne. Your article was so inspirational it compelled to respond.

  19. Super insightful, Adrienne! I found this really helpful, especially with having a grateful mindset to combat envy and discontentment. Thanks for sharing!

  20. My heart was broken in 2013 after investing my time and life with the wrong person. It seems that the world has change women’s values nowadays. I am still single and learning how to find the right heart and not a piece.

  21. Great article,
    I feel the same as you, only I cannot blog about it its too painful . I think each relationship we encounter we learn something for the next one. I just wish my true love would be here.
    I would hate to think that many of us just won’t find it and we will grow old without having loved so deeply , as deep as the ocean that the ocean itself becomes jealous and envious of that love.
    I know God has a plan for us all and we are to wait and be patient and allow for him to pick the right time. I just think if GOD really loved us, he would help us now, not wait for it to be too late.
    I cant talk about this i get to choked up over this. This is my first time commenting or signing up

    great article. Thank you

  22. hi first off I want to say I have some good experinces and bad on facebook,but I don’t think being in a relationship with someone is are main purpose,god is.and I’m confident and have faith that god has me single right now bcs he wants me to love him more,and be content with being single right now,i believe one day god will bring a women in my life.but for the mean time I’m working on myself and my love for god

Leave a Comment