Studies show that Facebook makes people unhappier – we only post our best days, when we look great, lost that weight, or got that promotion. Many of us, who are hoping for some of those things ourselves, can’t help but feel a little tug at our own struggles. Others fear they are missing out on the fun – perhaps weren’t invited to an event or wedding, or rather wish they were somewhere other than their poorly-lit, grey cubicle. In particular, summer on Facebook is peak time for envy – all of your friends are posting fabulous trips, showing off their hard-earned beach bodies, and spending weekends being popular and busy. We’ve all been there: stuck inside, not on break, and/or generally feeling pretty blah about ourselves.
You may not feel like clicking the Like button on someone’s spectacular vacation, but I’m here to give you a summer challenge that will make you much happier: be happy for other people!
Years back, when I lived in California, I was enjoying the newly updated, eternal scroll of my Facebook feed. I had just spent a quiet New Years enjoying a large pot of cheese fondu and was mulling over the silliness of resolutions, when I suddenly noticed something: I was very particular about giving Likes to people’s Facebook posts. I realized what I saw on people’s feed and how it related to my own feelings, directly affected whether I would click Like or not. Did I not like the person? Did I not care what they were posting? Was it not interesting? Or were there feelings of jealousy? Somehow I felt like I was wielding huge power with that silly little blue thumb, and I wasn’t going to just give it to anyone. It surprised me. And it upset me. I should be happy for other people, and I should celebrate their successes with them.
So that’s what I did.
I decided that in order to undo this weird and negative habit, I would force myself to like other people’s posts, particularly when I felt like not liking them. I decided at the time, that it would be a good New Years resolution: whenever I felt a negative feeling after seeing someone’s happy, positive post, I would give it a Like and give it in earnest. It didn’t cost me anything to click the button, but withholding them felt like a strange way for me to channel jealousy or judgement, and I chose to nip it in the bud. I followed this thinking: Was someone having a fantastic time in a post? Yes. Did it make me feel bad? Sort of. Was there any good reason for it? No. I always clicked Like.
It doesn’t cost anything to be kind to people, and it was good practice for me to check in on what was happening in my own life. Why was I not supportive? Why did certain things make me feel bad? How should I work on improving those things for myself? These were all really important questions to ask, rather than put my energy into micro-passive-aggressive behavior on Facebook (a technical term, obviously).
What started as a basic New Years resolution years ago, has set me free from many of those negative feelings that come hand-in-hand with social media. Once a forced practice, it is now a genuine habit and became a way for me to truly be happy for other people. Now when I scroll Facebook, and see someone doing well, I celebrate with them too. It feels like a win for an old friend, is also a win for me, and seeing others living their best life is motivation for me to do the same. It’s also a great way to rekindle old friendships and let someone know you’re there for them. No one’s life is perfect, even if it seems like it is, so why not be happy for someone who is having a really good day? I’ve only ever received kindness in return, and though it’s the tiniest of gestures, I hope that little Like made that person feel just a little more supported. And boy, how we all need a little more support in this digital age.
How do you deal with Facebook envy for yourself? Share your tips in the comments below!