We’re all guilty of flicking through our friends’ holiday snaps on Facebook, but how much do we let it affect us?
Have you felt little pangs of jealousy when you saw how much better a Facebook friend’s vacation looked than yours? How their clothes looked more expensive and their hair more glamorous? Their children seemed happier and their lives just, easy, right?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it’s more than likely you’re suffering from Facebook envy. But don’t worry, it’s not just you.
While overcoming Facebook envy doesn’t come with an easy 12-step recovery program, it’s very, very common.
The old idea of “keeping up with the Joneses”, meaning making comparisons between your life and others by setting your neighbour’s lifestyle as a benchmark for your own social achievements, has been taken to a whole new level thanks to social media.
A UK study has found that more than half of 16-24 year olds admitted to spending much of their time trying to measure up to the lives of their friends, as posted on Facebook.
A third of 25-44 year olds said the same, while more than one in ten 45-54 year olds measured their social status against their online networks.
Psychological consultant Dr Sandra Scott said that with the rise of social networking, there are just more “Jones’s” to keep up with in today’s society.
“We all have a tendency, to varying degrees, to be concerned about how other people view us and this can lead us to compare our lifestyle unfavourably to others who appear more affluent.
“The key is to keep perspective and to focus on the positives of who we are, and what we do have,” she says.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Facebook and other social networking sites allow people to present the version of their lives that they want their friends to see, and even be jealous of.
In an interview with CBS News, psychologist Dr David Swanson said, "What you put on display is how great your life is the cars you drive, the vacations you go on.
"Nobody's life is that perfect and so, whenever you start to compare your life to those images, you're going to be depressed, because you're going to feel like your life is lacking," he says.
So next time you consider adjusting your behaviour to keep up with your social networking neighbours, remember, they could be doing the same when they see the pictures you’ve chosen to post.