Do you ever feel as if your Facebook friends have more exciting lives than yours; that by comparison your life is boring?
I recently read about a study, which concluded that Facebook and other social networking sites are leading many users to feel “dissatisfied with their lives.” The study found that, “Witnessing friends’ vacations, love lives and work successes on Facebook can cause envy and trigger feelings of misery and loneliness.” Additionally, some people admitted that Facebook caused them to feel “frustrated or angry.”
Covet: To desire what belongs to another. (Webster’s Dictionary)
As someone who rarely leaves home, I can relate to this. If it wasn’t for the Discovery Channel and the Travel Channel, I’d never even have imaginary adventures or vacations. When ALS forced me to quit work and began limiting my ability to travel, I quickly figured out just how dangerous and depressing coveting (the health and lifestyle of others) could be. Thankfully, with God’s help, I’ve moved beyond that temptation and am now genuinely happy when I see family and friends enjoying the health and wealth that God has blessed them with.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15)
Thankfully, a few years after being diagnosed with ALS, I figured out that one of the problems with jealousy, or what the Bible calls covetousness, is that it keeps you from truly Rejoicing with those who rejoice” and, when you’re having a pity party, it’s also impossible to genuinely empathize with others – we cannot “weep with those who weep” because they’re stealing the spotlight that we think should be on us.
If you are one of the 33 percent of Facebook users that gets jealous when you read posts about your friends successes or see pictures of their fun vacations etc, ask yourself if you would be happy if none of your friends had any successes and never took vacations. I hope, like me, that’s the last thing you would want. In fact, to be honest, I only get frustrated with able-bodied couch potatoes; if I could speak I’d tell them to get up and go enjoy their life – like my mom used to tell me when, as a teenager, I was sitting on the couch watching Gilligan’s Island on a beautiful summer afternoon. If medical science ever makes it possible to do head transplants, watch out couch potatoes – I know of a lot of people with ALS and other disabilities that would make good use of your sedentary bodies.
The problem with sites like Facebook is that most people only post the highlights of the lives; they post pictures of their vacations, but rarely do they post pictures of themselves working. Mary’s sister is an executive with a large airline and for several years she would take our girls on exotic summer vacations; fun places like resorts in the Caribbean and Cabo San Lucas or the mountains of Colorado. Because their Aunt Kathy lives far away in another city, these trips were usually the only time the girls got to spend with her; they never saw her coming home exhausted after one of her frequent long days at work. Like our girls only seeing the good part of Aunt Kathy’s life, I think that Facebook, and the Internet in general, can give us a distorted view of reality.
You cannot be grateful for what you have when you’re focusing on what you desire.
“Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not steal,” seem to get all the press these days, but “Thou shalt not covet” is still one of the Ten Commandments.