Envy on social media is a first-world problem that we face today. Nowhere is envy more apparent than on social media.
Social media being what it is, creates an atmosphere where validation comes in the form of likes and follows. Therefore, those who live on social media are in an endless cycle of exchanging brags for likes.
Envy on Social Media Causes Depression
Some people wonder why their lives appear to be more mundane than the lives of their favorite media personalities. This way of thinking can cause depression.
A student, at Florida Gulf Coast University, presented a thesis paper that looked at the link between social media and depression. found that 18-34 year old’s cite envy as the primary reason for depression caused by social media:
“Participants (N = 198) reported that there are several potential causal factors of depression that result from the use of social media. These include envy (40.45%), unsettling news (15.73%), exclusion (12.36%), negative posts (12.36%), conflicting views (8.99%), cyberbullying (3.37%), too much time spent on social media (3.37%) and recalling past experiences (3.37%). “The Impact Of Social Media On Depression In 18-34-year-olds In The United States
In another study that looked at the crisis of mental health rising in young adults, they found that increased use of digital media (which no doubt includes social media) plays a part.
“The cause of this crisis is difficult to determine, but the rise of digital media is one possibility. The interaction between digital media use and mental health is complex, appearing to operate directly and indirectly, at the individual and generational levels, and via time spent as well as through specific experiences. With more adolescents diagnosed as having depression and engaging in self‐harm behavior and suicide attempts, it is imperative to not only treat those with these conditions but to explore how to prevent their onset.“Increases in Depression, Self‐Harm, and Suicide Among U.S. Adolescents After 2012 and Links to Technology Use: Possible Mechanisms
It is clear that envy is a real problem, and it doesn’t only occur among young adults.
Envy on Social Media is the Sin of Covetousness
Unfortunately, envy is just as common among Christians, as it is among non-believers.
The reasons for envy on social media are the same reasons for envy everywhere else. Humans tend to go against God’s law. He tells us not to covet, and we covet. We don’t only covet riches, we covet relationships, education and even the number of followers that someone has.
Often we pretend to not be envious of what people post by labeling them as “show-offs”, when the truth is we are experiencing envy.
So what do we do? Let’s turn to the Saints – specifically, St John Vianney.
St John Vianney on Envy
St John Vianney, in his catechesis on envy, addressed the problem of envy. The sermon is reproduced below.
“Envy is a sadness which we feel on account of the good that happens to our neighbour.
Envy, my children, follows pride; whoever is envious is proud. See, envy comes to us from Hell; the devils having sinned through pride, sinned also through envy, envying our glory, our happiness. Why do we envy the happiness and the goods of others? Because we are proud; we should like to be the sole possessors of talents, riches, of the esteem and love of all the world! We hate our equals, because they are our equals; our inferiors, from the fear that they may equal us; our superiors, because they are above us. In the same way, my children, that the devil after his fall felt, and still feels, extreme anger at seeing us the heirs of the glory of the good God, so the envious man feels sadness at seeing the spiritual and temporal prosperity of his neighbour.
We walk, my children, in the footsteps of the devil; like him, we are vexed at good, and rejoice at evil. If our neighbour loses anything, if his affairs go wrong, if he is humbled, if he is unfortunate, we are joyful. . . we triumph! The devil, too, is full of joy and triumph when we fall, when he can make us fall as low as himself. What does he gain by it? Nothing. Shall we be richer, because our neighbour is poorer? Shall we be greater, because he is less? Shall we be happier, because he is more unhappy? O my children! how much we are to be pitied for being like this! Saint Cyprian said that other evils had limits, but that envy had none. In fact, my children, the envious man invents all sorts of wickedness; he has recourse to evil speaking, to calumny, to cunning, in order to blacken his neighbour; he repeats what he knows, and what he does not know he invents, he exaggerates. . . .
Through the envy of the devil, death entered into the world; and also through envy we kill our neighbour; by dint of malice, of falsehood, we make him lose his reputation, his place. . . . Good Christians, my children, do not do so; they envy no one; they love their neighbour; they rejoice at the good that happens to him, and they weep with him if any misfortune comes upon him. How happy should we be if we were good Christians. Ah! my children, let us, then, be good Christians and we shall no more envy the good fortune of our neighbour; we shall never speak evil of him; we shall enjoy a sweet peace; our soul will be calm; we shall find paradise on earth .”
May this sermon challenge all of us to flee from envy. Life would be a lot more peaceful.
Next time you feel envious of an online friend, just smile and count your blessings.
How do you deal with envy within or envy without?