Social Media Envy

Social Media Envy (SME)

Social media provides a skewed way of seeing the world that may cause a potentially dangerous, even harmful condition we call ‘social media envy.'

Some of our clients have social media envy, others do not. Lots of people who rely on social media for their daily happiness likely have social media envy to some degree. In fact, the people who look at the picture-perfected business and personal lives of others and constantly compare them to their own, may go beyond the woes of social media envy to far more terrible conditions.


Let’s start with providing a clear definition of social media envy, giving examples of people who exhibit that behavior, then sharing ways to avoid it, thus supplying the users of Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms a way to cope with it.

Social media envy is defined as: A negative feeling, after seeing a social media post, that is a painful awareness of another person’s appearance or situation, to the point of feeling either:

* an urgent desire to have the same thing,

* anger, or worse,

* resentfulness towards them, sometimes to the point of hoping something bad happens to them.

There are varying degrees of social media envy, from mild to severe.

One of our clients, we’ll call Sarah, has a beautiful real estate Facebook business page. The homes she either lists for her seller clients or helps her buyer clients buy, all seem to look amazing. Maybe it’s the high quality of her photos, but whatever the case, Sarah’s page is graced with many beautiful posts, with fantastic, above average reach, engagement, and clicks.

Out of the blue one day, Sarah emailed us to request that we make her Facebook posts look and feel a little more like John Doe’s posts with XYZ, a different real estate company. We enthusiastically replied that we’d be happy to do so. Upon researching John Doe’s Facebook page, we saw less beautiful posts, with much less engagement and reach.

Our first thought was, doesn’t Sarah see that her posts are performing much, much better than John Doe’s posts? Apparently not.

Without trying to convince Sarah whether her idea was good for her or not, we realized that she was experiencing social media envy. She wanted what John Doe had, whether or not it was better than what she had. In her case it was not, so we added some John-Doe-like-elements to her posts, without compromising the beauty and excellence of her existing posts.

Some months later, Sarah made the same type of request for Instagram, not realizing again that her posts looked and performed much better than the persons to whom she was comparing herself and her business.


We have another client who is an actor, who we’ll call Nick. (Talk about a stressful business and one where people compare themselves to others.) Nick is successful, smart, and a really talented actor. Nick called us to discuss his Twitter and mentioned that he recently had lost a huge part in a pilot to someone we’ll call Cameron, who he considered “less talented” and “less right” for the part. He was angry that Cameron even bragged on social media about booking the role, something frowned upon in the industry. Studios generally ask talent to wait at least until the project is filming, but ideally until filming is finished and it’s close to airing.

Nick, who is normally cool and fair-minded, went into a rant about how he hoped the pilot would get cancelled and worse, he hoped a few not good things would happen to Cameron. Knowing Nick, we knew he was just blowing off steam in a highly stressful situation, but we also recognized the signs of severe social media envy.

Luckily for Nick, his SME was temporary and not harmful to either Cameron or to him. Others are not so lucky and people who aren’t as healthy as Nick might be inclined to take matters into their own hands.

How can we avoid social media envy and stay healthy while looking at the feed?

First, realize that the images on the feed are most often the very best ones, and sometimes may have even been retouched to appear perfect.

Second, understand that other people’s personal and business lives are not perfect, even if they look perfect online.

Third, people use social media to promote themselves, their products, services, brand, and whatever else they want to promote. In doing so, they utilize whatever means necessary to make the promotion successful … including photo enhancements, boasting, bragging, showing skin, embellishing, comparing, and more.

People who are looking at the feed are constantly being pushed, pulled, and manipulated to feel one way or another about political issues, sneaker brands, self-help gurus, actors, friends, musicians, and makeup encouraging them to buy, like, support, or take other actions. Realize that when you are checking the feed, you are being handled.

Fourth, if you post on social media, you also are putting your best foot forward, and you too are promoting yourself, your family, and your business. The timing of everyone’s great accomplishments varies. If you’re not currently posting some great thing, a promotion, a new baby, a new house, a coveted role, a new record, a sold house, or some other great deal, your time will come, it’s just not at this very moment.

If you can take these four points into consideration each time you go onto a social media feed, your mind should have a better time dealing with the pressures on you from the promotion by others and the manipulation by them to get you approve of them.

We often say to our clients, “You are unique, which is why you’re successful. Do not try to copy anyone, or you’ll just be another version of them. Go your own way and let the world see your greatness.”

We encourage anyone who feels a painful awareness when looking at social media feeds, to realize that those who are posting are doing everything they can to make themselves look nearly perfect in order to promote something. If the painful awareness or anger does not diminish with that understanding, it may be best to take a break from social media to avoid anguish or worse.

Together, let’s cure social media envy. :)

Here’s to great content, reach, engagement, and clicks!

Paradox Media Group