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When envy decides to visit, she assassinates all rationale. Envy erases our understanding that being happy for another’s success and joy does not affect or detract from our personal success and contentment.
The more I rejoice in another’s accomplishments or life’s luck, the more I am inspired to focus on my own desires and passions.
Lately, I’ve noticed envy lurking all over Facebook. She creeps in between the exclamation points, smiley faces and thumbs ups.
She is taking advantage of our weakness. The human brain was not created to function healthfully in our technologically-ravaged modern world. I believe social media is causing us all to become slightly insane—delusional.
As human beings, we perceive what is in front of us as reality; we trust what we see as truth, but it isn’t. Through our engagement in the daily scroll of hundreds of self edited and airbrushed status updates, we perpetuate the spread of a lethal disease—the belief in an archetype of the perfect life, that does not exist– always happy and shiny, untouched by life’s ups and downs.
This inundation of perfection blinds us with jealousy.
People use Facebook to share the highlights of their lives. Just as a child proudly parades her masterpiece of crayon scribbles in front of her mother, hoping for the applause of oohs and ahhs, we tout our accomplishments to hundreds of virtual friends, awaiting the thumbs ups and comments, searching for the same thing—validation that we are doing a good job—we are important.
Facebook is a platform for creating and sharing the life we want people to think we live. Anyone would be envious of a life free of pain, sadness, loneliness and heartbreak. The duality of life evaporates as we begin to dissolve into the monotony of perfection.
This is the cause of our envy.
We have a choice to see Facebook for what it is, a sound byte of real life and a reservoir of hungry hearts searching for acknowledgment, but the blur of jealousy overtakes us.
We have fallen prey to the delusion that every one else’s life is happier than ours, more productive and even more valuable.
We forget. We forget that there is something greater that dwells amidst the accolades, the trips and the fancy meals—the every day of life.
This understanding has become lost as social networking sites become our primary source of communication. We deliberately try to set ourselves apart, to be seen, to be happier than the update before us.
We are creating a struggle that doesn’t need to exist. We don’t need to set ourselves apart because…
We are all the same.
How do we reengage with this sameness, honoring the trueness of the human experience? The first step, set limits with Facebook. I very seldom go on the newsfeed. I find it to be the quicksand of fallacy.
“Life happens between the snap shots. Life is what gets us from one snap shot to the next.”
~ A quote from a movie I saw once.
When we are lashed with status after status of overly exuberant tan people doing yoga on white sand beaches and rock formations, pictures of new houses and cars, pictures vomited on by quotes of high vibration/low vibration explanations (quotes so optimistic they make me want to punch someone), food that looks styled from a magazine shoot and people who look styled from a magazine shoot–we dismiss the in between, the other 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds of daily life. We fall ill with the virus of illusion, infecting the mind with delusion, feeding our fever of jealousy.
We think everything is better ‘out there.’
It’s not better out there. All of these other people carry the same self doubt, confusion and bouts of loneliness you and I do. We are all just trying to figure it out, seeing our way through life from our own unique perspective of the world.
I write this piece as a call to action. If more of us write about how it really is, take pictures of how it really is and tell it like it really is, there would be no envy. We would see from our different perspectives, that we are all having the same experience.
My mission on Facebook is to bring a flicker of raw and gritty day to day, within this virtual train wreck of grandiosity and new age fairytale. Despite my efforts, there have been many times women have approached me and stated,
“I live vicariously through you on Facebook. Your life is so amazing.”
No. My life is real. Flawed. Cracked. Beautiful. Balanced with missteps, mistakes and good judgments.
I have worked diligently to be where I am right now, accompanied by sacrifice—a divorce from my husband, a divorce from everything I knew, making choices that took me in a direction I never expected. I have tried to reflect the truth of my life, the uncensored and uncut version in my writings, but if I am permeating a scent of idealism that others pine for, then I am doing a disservice to myself and to them. I am creating a veneer of falsehood, feeding envy along the way.
I must re-evaluate the image I am projecting into the ether of the internet. I encourage all of us to reflect on our online actions because, behind the split second capture of an Instagram picture of posed smiles, is a story, a life’s story; A story we all know and for some reason like to avoid.
Let’s stop avoiding it and share it openly and completely. Instead of the summits of our lives, let’s share the trek too. For those who have reached the summit of Mt. Everest, the story they tell, that they want to tell and others want to hear is of the climb itself because, that is the most important part.
Here is a portion of a Facebook status update I wrote a week ago:
Please don’t envy me because I am you, just with different features and freckly skin.
I have some really shitty days and some really good days. I cry, I yell, I laugh.
Sometimes, I get upset and I send impulsive texts filled with nonsense to my boyfriend, that I wish I could erase before they turn green.
There are days I feel confused, and days everything makes sense.
I have been offered some deserved opportunities over the years, a product of un-waivering discipline and hard work, but my daily life is quietly mundane; I spend most of my time with my daughters, or alone- writing and teaching at my studio.
I have issues with my parents. I have issues. Period.
I have an obsession with pretzel m & m’s–I eat way too many of them.
I get lonely, really lonely–I cry and then, I get over it.
I get angry, really angry–I yell or I cry and then, I get over it.
I look in the mirror in the morning, and I hate my hair.
Sometimes I want to throw my children out of a window because they drive me crazy when they fight.
I just finished yelling at them for not going to bed.
When I need a break from my seriousness, I watch awful movies on my computer in my bed while eating Triscuits.
I will go to sleep tonight at 8:30 because that’s how I roll. I don’t have a glamorous social life,
I’d rather be at home even if I had the option of being out on the scene.
I’m a girl who found what I love, and I work really damn hard for everything I have created.
Don’t envy me. I don’t envy you, because I know we are all the same–at least that’s my perspective.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta
Amanda Van Graan is a single mom, yogi, travel copywriter, and an infinitely curious hum…