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

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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!]

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42 Comments on "The Facebook Envy Effect"

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Greg
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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!

Sophie
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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.

Samantha
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest
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… Read more »
ayanda
Guest

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.

Adrienne
Guest

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!

jessy
Guest

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.

Adrienne
Guest

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.

Rachel
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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

J
Guest

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.

Adrienne
Guest

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

Vince Ortega
Guest

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!

Adrienne
Guest

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

Brittany
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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!

Alicia
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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!

Linda
Guest

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☀️

Adrienne
Guest

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!

Kirsten
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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!

Richie Choice
Guest

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.

Adrienne
Guest

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.

Dith
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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.

oluwatosin
Guest
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… Read more »
Adrienne
Guest

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.

Emily
Guest

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 🙂

Cherise Macias
Guest

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

Hannah
Guest
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… Read more »
Grace
Guest

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

John
Guest

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.

Maria Theresa ANN
Guest
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… Read more »
anthony
Guest

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

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