Recent Research Reveals How Facebook Causes Envy & Jealousy

Recent Research Reveals How Facebook Causes Envy & Jealousy October 30, 2016

Several new studies have revealed that Facebook makes countless people feel bad about themselves, leading to anger and hate against other people. Why? Because of envy and jealousy.

Shine recently published the findings of the research. And it’s not pretty. Here’s an excerpt:

“More than a third of the respondents reported feeling negative, but it had nothing to do with Facebook’s ever-changing privacy policies and advertisements—most of those bad vibes were rooted in jealousy . . . We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook, with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry . . . The fact that we spend so much time on Facebook means that our petty retaliations take place there as well. Users who felt jealous of their friends’ status updates, photos, and life events often dealt with it by exaggerating their own accomplishments, posting unrealistically pretty profile shots, and sharing over-the-top status updates. That, in turn led other Facebook friends to feel jealous and inadequate—something the researchers dubbed an ‘envy spiral.’ All of that virtual envy creates a real-life problem: Users end up feeling dissatisfied with their own lives. “

Many people who aren’t happy with themselves will read of the successes of other people on social media sites and blogs. Instead of “rejoicing with those who rejoice,” they will instead become envious. This will often lead them to embellish their own accomplishments, successes, and life-achievements, lifting themselves up while tearing others down. Often people they don’t know personally. This kind of envy and jealousy is often the root behind personal attacks, slander, and character assassination which are designed to hurt the reputation of others. The motive of which is jealousy.

Christians are not immune to this problem. And it has been with us since the first century. James wrote,

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” (James 3:16)

As I put it in another place,

Jealousy over God’s favor in Abel’s life cost him that life. His brother Cain grew insanely jealous and killed him over it. Saul became jealous because of the favor of God in David’s life. That jealousy moved him to try to kill David. Jesus Christ Himself was put to death by those who were envious of His life and ministry (Matt. 27:18; Mark 15:10).

That jealousy seems to have taken root when Jesus was drawing larger crowds than both John the Baptist and the Pharisees: ”The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John . . . When the Lord learned of this, He left Judea and went back once more to Galilee” (John 4:1, 3).

The servant is not greater than his Master.

If God chooses to put His favor on your life . . . or your ministry . . . be prepared for others to become jealous of you. People who are jealous become obsessed with tearing the objects of their jealousy down, misrepresenting them, distorting their words, and maligning them. And lifting themselves up in the process. It’s a pattern that’s woven into the flesh.

However, your reaction is everything. If you respond in kind, you will lose the Lord’s favor. But if you choose the path of David and Jesus, entrusting it to God and not returning evil for evil, the Lord’s favor will only increase in your life and He will produce more fruit through your ministry. The Lord stands with those who refuse to retaliate, but are willing to leave the matter in His hands.

The words of Peter say it all, I think: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

“Men always hate most what they envy most.” ~ H.L. Mencken

“As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.” ~ St. John Chrysostom

“If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang.” ~ Charley Reese

Have you ever had someone try to hurt you because of envy and jealousy?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Frank Viola

    Great way of putting it!

  • I have to agree with “Envy and jealousy are not caused by Facebook. Or any external source.” In many ways I am often heard to say that social media in any form tends to be “human nature amplified” – speed/scope, etc. means it can amplify traits that are pre-existing – as with all technologies – it allows some things, causes others to become irrelevant, and changes our practices. It is not in itself to blame…

  • Frank Viola

    Facebook doesn’t cause it, it exposes and incites it. Some of it is toxic so users should be wise, especially when it comes to feeding trolls. See my post tomorrow on this.

  • Matt Thornton

    Envy and jealousy are not caused by facebook. Or any external source. They are part and parcel of the way we view our social relationships, and exist wholly and completely within our minds. It’s like blaming someone else for making you angry, or relying on someone else to make you happy. You can think like that, but ultimately, you have to own your emotional state. People don’t *make* you feel anything – taking personal responsiblity for your life begins with refusing to blame others for what goes on inside your own skull.

    While facebook provides a window into social behavior that hasn’t really existed before, I can’t imagine that it’s led to some deep change in human emotional response. Rather, my guess is that facebook just makes visible something that was always there.

    People have been telling tall tales about their own accomplishments and failing to react gracefully to others’ accomplishments since, well, forever I would guess. As Frank points out above, how you react is critical.

    If we avoid something that makes us jealous, we’ve only postponed the problem, not solved it. Another way to think about facebook is as a spiritual exercise – befriend as many as possible, look at all the posts, experience the full range. Then, when you can read all of it calmly and lovingly, you know you’ve made some progress.

  • Frank Viola

    Yes, it’s possible as long as one is wise with how they manage their settings. You have a lot of control over who can see your wall, what groups you want to participate in or not, and who you pay attention to on the network.

  • Valeria T

    Do you think it is possible to use Facebook and other social networks and not get sucked in and negatively affected by them? Or Facebook itself is the culprit. I am leaningn towards thinking that it takes a very spiritually mature person to be able to shield all the negativity that comes from it. (that’s why I don’t use it 🙂 )

  • r

    Is it any wonder that a website that begins w/anger, frustration, jealousy and envy (if the movie social network is to be believed) spawns the same?…as Frank notes, since the beginning of time these feelings are our default setting and FB appeals to those base emotions.

  • Facebook is impersonal. It is not the place to develop meaningful intimate conversations or relationships. It is also a place where people post what they want the public or friends to know. People can hide behind a mask– so to speak, the Facebook media mask. It saddens me to know there are people who live vicariously through other peoples lives, and feel the pinch of jealously or enviousness.