Social networks—in addition to being virtual town squares that aid in
connecting those who are distant—are often used as display cases for people
to show off their lives. But sometimes instead of being focused on sharing
and communion, they foster feelings of envy and jealousy.
That’s why we’d like to talk to you today about “digital envy.”
When we speak of “digital envy,” we refer to that feeling that arises
within us when we think that others have fewer problems or less pain
because all we see are the beautiful landscapes they photograph and their
smiling faces surrounded by friends…
How can we fight this awful feeling? Here are some simple tips:
1) Remember: no one is immune to suffering
Italian journalist Enzo Biagi, after interviewing the richest, most
beautiful, famous, and powerful fellow Italians, concluded that there is no
one—truly no one—worth envying. No one is immune to suffering. The first
tip to combat envy (digital and otherwise) is to remember that we are all
in the same boat: we all have to deal with our condition as vulnerable
Let’s not waste time listing all the reasons why others are more fortunate
or better than us. Instead, let’s commit to achieving goals that can bring
us joy and satisfaction.
2) “Each of us is fighting a battle no one knows about”
Don’t let appearances fool you. No one is always feeling 100%—not even
those who only show their best moments on social media. Who doesn’t
experience hardship, disappointment, and other life problems?
The point is that we rarely flaunt our difficulties. It’s easier to post a
photo surrounded by friends, than to say how lonely we feel. Those who do
just that are almost considered misfits. Social media don’t really seem to
leave room for weakness. We risk seeing others as competition. We
constantly wonder who has the most fantastic life. But no one is as happy
as they try to convey.
3) Even if you happen to be less happy than someone else, envy is not a
If indeed, for some reason, your friends or acquaintances are better off
than you, know that envy bears no fruit. It doesn’t help you in any way; it
only makes things worse.
If you see someone who has achieved their goals, instead of envying them
for it, try to understand what resources they have. Let go of your pride
and accept help. There are people who do have beautiful, successful lives.
There are people who get through challenges and hardships by showing true
grit. Don’t think, “I wish he were as sad and dejected as I am.” Instead,
ask yourself, “Is there something he/she has understood about life that
eludes me?” Collaboration and sharing are much more fruitful than the dirt
trail ahead of us, constructed by envy—especially if you find yourself in a
4) Learn to be grateful
Envy can become a bad habit when you get used to complaining about what you
lack, instead of being grateful for what you have. One day after another,
you might come to consider yourself the most miserable person in the
universe, despite having a whole list of reasons to be happy. It happens to
all of us: we see people who face a litany of problems but know how to
appreciate the good things in life… then we see people who complain
constantly about how unlucky they are anytime they open their mouth. If we
want to get better, we must train ourselves to say “thank you” every day
for something. In doing so, we will slowly change our outlook and
eventually be much happier.
5) Work on looking up to and respecting others
There is a passage from a letter of St. Paul that has always struck me:
“Let each esteem others better than himself.” Learn to see and recognize
the good in others. Try to compliment a person when you recognize in them a
true gift, an achievement, or something beautiful and good within them.
You will find that by doing so, not only will you not lose anything, but
you will gain something: humility and appreciation, which make
relationships more mature, profound, stable, beautiful. If you spend your
days envying others and gossiping, you probably miss these positive
attributes, making you so unhappy that you constantly envy others.