By Karis Rogerson, Online Managing Editor
It’s easy to count your worth in social media likes and comments. They’re the digital currency of our day.
Unfortunately, “Here, if I like her picture, she might like mine; and the more people like my picture, the more people see it, so I’ll get even more likes,” is a thought process I have on a fairly regular basis. And it’s poisonous and soul-sucking.
You might think that’s a little overdramatic. But if I told you envy was poisonous and soul-sucking, would you disagree with that? My guess is you wouldn’t. I mean, it’s one of the seven deadly sins, it’s gotta be bad, right? And the habit of comparing our own social media status to our friends’ is just another branch of envy.
It’s something I’ve personally struggled with for a long time. Not just social media envy, but plain old envy, too. Social media just compounds the issue. Last semester, I was in a Renaissance Lit class, casually flipping through the pages of The Faerie Queen, as is done, when Dr. Strait started describing envy.
That’s when I realized that, oh my word, I am envy. I view the world through the lens of who is better than me and why I am not as good as them. And it’s tearing me apart from the inside out. I have a hard time being happy for my friends when they receive good news, or accepting that you can give someone else a compliment without detracting from my own worth. It’s messing with my friendships, my schoolwork, the very way my brain works.
I think I would still have a problem with envy if it weren’t for social media, but it definitely makes the issue worse. Because I have the ability to see in excruciating detail just how much more “popular” and “important” my friends are, through likes, comments, and followers. I can easily spend hours perusing my own stats versus others’, and next thing I know I’m twice as envious of their lives as I was before.
Which is crazy, because when you stop to think about it, social media doesn’t show a full view. It’s a partial, maybe 30 percent view of someone’s real life. We only post the good things—the funny things we say (not the thousands of stupid thoughts we think every day); the selfies we actually look good in (definitely not our snapchats); the moments when we are actually having fun and living life (not the three consecutive Fridays we spent marathoning “Friends” on Netflix). So maybe someone’s highlight reel is a little more exciting than yours. That doesn’t mean their lives are any more worth living than yours is.
We shouldn’t spend our lives trying to find value through social media. If I spent less time monitoring my Facebook likes, the views on my blog, or how many retweets that insanely clever tweet got and more time focusing on actually being the best version of me, I would be a lot better off, a much better friend, and a lot less envious.
I’m not going to tell you to give up social media. I’m a very strong believer in its positive side effects. I’ll just ask you to join me in being careful. Monitor your heart rather than your online stats. Use social media for its purpose: to keep in touch with others and share the best parts of your life, and try not to turn it into a definition of your worth. Trust me when I say that you’re worth way more than even hundreds of likes and retweets.