Pictures of Instagram taken on the beaches of Formentera , incredible images of the past holidays in London, some selfies taken at the macro-festivals of fashion…
Let’s face it: the interest is not so much in the beauty of what you see as in being able to say: ” I’ve been there! “. We use social networks as if they were an extension of our body and, as such, we project ourselves on them trying to offer the best possible image. The problem often comes when you see that what others are teaching is more attractive than what you can teach. Could it be that Instagram and Facebook are enhancing the feeling of envy ?
A matter of self-perception
This was discussed in the article on the FOMO Syndrome: new technologies and the digital age lead to a widespread fear of not living life intensely as (it seems) others do . However, on holidays, this can become more acute.
Just look at the degree to which the photographs of the most expensive destinations and the most exclusive locations are viralized. Add another ingredient to this cocktail: the most famous and richest people have the most followers on social networks, but even Twitter or Instagram suggests that we follow them when we haven’t even launched our new user account yet!
Strangely enough, this may mean that being subjected to a continuous barrage of ideal summer images can put us under pressure to achieve experiences comparable to those we see… just when those images usually convey fun, relaxation and freedom to do whatever you want.
In part, this is what makes more and more technological supports that allow us to take pictures anywhere and in almost any condition: smartphones with good built-in cameras, underwater cameras, selfies sticks, etc. A moment that is not immortalized through a photograph is like a moment that is not lived, because it cannot be shared massively through social networks.
But the problem with this is not just that we’re missing a camera at the right time: is that we need those moments to occur in the desired amount and in the required quantities . It is not enough to experience pleasant sensations and situations: in addition, those experiences we live must be able to be photographed and must be able to be recognized by others as something to be envied. People will be more impressed with the Iguazu Falls than with a few pictures taken in a massif in Antarctica, even if the latter is your favourite destination for this holiday.
Facebook and envy
To what extent is it true that seeing how much fun others have through social networks makes us feel bad? Certainly, it is a somewhat diffuse subject and not too easy to address scientifically, but there is some evidence that reinforces this idea.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General shows in its results that using Facebook passively for a few minutes (scrolling vertically to see the publications that others are posting) enhances feelings of envy and thus decreases emotional well-being .
Another research published in PLOS ONE reached similar results, and added another interesting fact: face-to-face interactions did not have the same effects on subjective well-being as interactions via Facebook. In fact, they made the participants in the experiment feel better, the opposite of what happened with the use of the social network.
This would therefore serve to reject the hypothesis that people feel bad about any form of social interaction. The envy and relative unease that the use of Facebook seems to have would be part of the consequences of exposing oneself to images and messages that others have filtered out to provide a desirable image of themselves.
In fact, there is a very negative side to the use of networks: “Depersonalization and (in)communication in social networks”
Instagram and Facebook doses, consciously and in the right measure
Solutions for not going through this? The binomial Facebook – envy could have deep roots considering the power we have in shaping the image of ourselves that we want to give on the Internet. Besides, there doesn’t seem to be much research on this subject, so it’s difficult to know which is the best strategy to face this.
However, the probable and most intuitive solution is in taking with philosophy the use of Instagram, Twitter and other digital platforms . On the one hand, we can remind ourselves that to believe that what we are seeing is representative of the lives of others would be to fall into a trap. On the other hand, we could, for example, also take a “vacation” from social networks. In this way it is likely that many more stimulating experiences will come our way, even without seeking them.