Reality Check: Facebook Envy?

Progress has given us enhanced opportunities to connect with each other. Whereas a phone call could be perceived as an interruption, email (much like an old-fashioned letter!) can be read at leisure.

Social networks, such as facebook, contribute another interesting quality. You can see what’s going on with someone without ever entering a conversation; it’s a bit like taking a peek into someone’s back yard when they’re not home.  

Choice theory is all in favour of building relationships and enhancing connections among people. So, a tool that allows you to connect easily with others is a great benefit.

However, it’s so seldom all gain, no pain, eh?

Julia loved how she can stay in touch through facebook. She’s at home with a young child and feels isolated, so she was initially excited to be able to see what her friends were up to every day.

Weeks go by, and Julia becomes more and more dissatisfied. Every time she looks, somebody is recounting an exciting event in their lives. Whether it’s a new partner, a new puppy, a new job, a new vacation; everyone has a life that’s much more exciting than hers.

There’s a natural inclination to post and share our good times: our triumphs and successes. As Julia browses through highlight after highlight, it’s also natural for her to perceive that the lives of others are filled with only high points. It can be difficult to maintain perspective but—perhaps the low points just haven’t been posted!

Though she intends to spend only a few minutes catching up, Julia’s found herself sitting at the computer for hours, devouring the activities of friends and even mere acquaintances. In comparison, her life looks dull and filled with drudgery.

Often, when Julia finally drags herself away from the screen, she feels like curling up in a ball, wondering why nothing great ever happens in her life.

Fortunately, when Julia found that she was frequently frustrated and dissatisfied after a session of virtually “connecting” with friends, she asked herself, “Is my life better or worse as a result of spending this time on my computer?”

This question is a great example of the concept of self-evaluation. Answering questions of that type can help us become clear about the effects of our own actions on our own lives.

Julia could easily see that following and envying someone else’s life wasn’t helping her create her own satisfying life. Her facebook habit was becoming a drain on her enthusiasm, rather than a relationship-builder. She wanted to change that.

Her next question, “What could I be doing that would be more satisfying?”

Julia chose to replace some of the time that she had spent on her social network activity with deliberately working toward the highlights she wants in her life.

Julia didn’t kick her facebook habit cold-turkey; virtual contact with friends has its place! But Julia also realized that she needed some face-to-face conversation to feel connected with her friends. This also helped her regain perspective; the lives of her friends are not just highlight after highlight.

Do you have a habit that makes your life better? (Or worse?)

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