5 Ways to Avoid Social Media Envy

UPDATED: May 27, 2024
PUBLISHED: August 19, 2016

The next time you feel envious of your co-worker’s huge promotion or your high school friend’s perfect family, take aim at envy with these five strategies.

Related: Why Social Media Is Ruining Your Self-Esteem—and How to Stop It

1. Remind yourself it’s the highlight reel.

L’Oreal Payton, 28, says that despite not being ready to have children or buy a home yet, seeing others’ posts on Facebook has made her question whether she is ready. “You don’t know about the debt they may be in or the infertility issues they’re having,” she says. “We compare their highlight reel to our behind-the-scenes, and it’s really comparing apples to oranges.”

2. Make healthy upward social comparisons.

“If people are posting their successes—or more likely, their amazing travels—then the unhealthy response would be to say, Those people are so amazing and I am not. I’m a lesser person because look at what they’ve accomplished or where they’ve gone or what they’ve done,” North says. “The healthy thing would be to say, Wow, that’s a possibility for me, too. I can achieve that, I can go there.” Employ “healthy jealousy” toward others and strive for what they have accomplished instead of feeling envious. Just don’t let it go too far.

3. Be gracious.

“When I see someone else having major success that I feel I deserve, I try to force myself into: Good for them! They’re a cool person. They deserved this. They worked hard,” says creative strategist Justin Brady, 32, who has dealt with social media envy. “And when you force yourself to ditch the envy and be positive, appreciative and thankful for what you have, that slowly changes your true feelings for that person and their success.” Try liking the post you’re envious of—it could encourage you to reach for a similar goal.

4. Remember the person’s intent.

We may all feel a twinge of jealousy when we see the exciting milestones people post on Facebook—we may even think they’re bragging. But when big milestones happen to us, we usually post about them, too. After all, we’ve showered people with likes and support. When it’s our turn, we want the same in return. Most people don’t share their milestones to incite envy; they do it because they’re happy. “I think there is a part of us—and it could be that Andy Warhol, 15-minutes-of-fame mentality where we want the attention—but I think at the core, we want to share because it’s good news, and we’re happy and we want other people to be happy for us as well,” Payton says.

5. When in doubt, nix social media for a bit.

If you’ve tried the above methods but still can’t ditch your envy, try giving social media a rest. Taking a hiatus from Facebook or Instagram may be exactly what you need to feel more confident and less envious. Think about what you aspire to, and take action to achieve your goals without the successes of others in your peripheral vision.

Related: What Happened When I Ditched Technology for 7 Days


This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications. When she's not writing, she can usually be found drinking matcha tea into excess, traveling somewhere new with her husband or surfing Etsy late into the night.