» Envy in the Digital Age

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John Brhel is a freelance writer from upstate New York that enjoys picking apart life's idiosyncrasies and listening to Huey Lewis & the News.

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Don’t you just hate that friend of yours on Facebook who seems to lead a more exciting life than Richard Branson and Jay-Z combined? You know, that guy who posts pictures of himself  in Thailand one day and backstage with Guns ‘N Roses the next? These type of guys make you start questioning whether or not you’re as suave or interesting as you thought you were. “Should I just get a lifetime ‘World of Warcraft’ membership and call it quits?” you ask yourself in crushing doubt.

Calm down

The idiom “the grass is greener” couldn’t apply to a more suitable time than today. Social networking has ushered in a new age of grade school comparisons. Jealousy over so-and-so owning more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures back in 1990 has been replaced by jealousy over so-and-so owning three sports cars, a yacht and every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure ever released.

A friend of mine – let’s call him Jeff – recently expressed his frustration over not measuring up to one of his coworkers. Jeff, a decent-looking dude with a great job, awesome girlfriend, and nice place, told me how jealous he was that his younger and more inexperienced coworker had just bought a brand new sports car and was going on expensive trips on a semi-regular basis. It was only after giving him a thorough haranguing on how worthless it is to compare himself to others that Jeff stopped feeling like a lesser-than. I pointed out to Jeff that 1) this coworker was just one person, 2) that there’s billions of people way less fortunate no matter how you shake it and 3) that he was his own person with his own set of goals and successes.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best for yourself. There is, however, something hopelessly futile about comparing yourself to others and getting down for not having all they do. Jeff was jealous that this guy had a hot car and got to on sweet vacations. Perhaps this guy came from a rich family and got it all handed to him. Perhaps Jeff would be getting his own car and going on a huge trip to Saint Thomas within the year. There’s a good chance his coworker was jealous of him for his relationship and/or sick guitar shredding skills.

If you spend all your time pointing out all the things you don’t have that other guys do, you’ll not only have zero time to eat or sleep but will end up feeling sorry for yourself and end up way more of a loser than you actually ever were. Nobody likes a whiner. If there’s something you want that you don’t have, work for it. If it doesn’t work out, at least you tried as opposed to moped.

Next time that Facebook friend of yours posts a picture of himself skydiving with Mr. T, don’t get down. Post that picture of you and grandma playing checkers and be happy for what you’ve got.

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