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Is Cyber Life Better Than Real Life?

What is the image you want to portray on line?  Is the person you would like the world to see on the screen younger, slimmer, more attractive, healthier and wealthier than the one who gazes back at  you when you reflect on the person in the mirror? When you read the social media postings of those you know, do you experience Facebook envy?

This was written on a friend’s thread today:

“I spoke to a friend yesterday and she said she took herself off of FB. This is what she said: “I found myself getting down, feeling down – reading about how wonderful everybody else’s life was. I have a job, boyfriend and good things too but somehow it seemed like my friends’ lives were so much happier. I was getting depressed reading all of their wonderful stuff.”

This is not an uncommon phenom as many find their lives lacking in comparison to those (or at least the ways in which they portray them) they see sharing about sumptuous meals in fancy restaurants, accomplishments of their children, luxurious homes, lavish vacations and romantic, happily ever after love stories.  A definition of envy is to desire what someone else has, accompanied by a belief that they will not experience it, perhaps due to feelings of unworthiness or that there isn’t enough of whatever they want, to go around.

If you take a look at those two statements, it brings you to self exploration. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of person would be worthy of what you want?
  • What makes you feel undeserving?
  • Whose voice is telling you that?
  • What do you want to say in response?
  • Is it true that there isn’t enough love, adventure, food or money to go around?
  • Can you challenge that belief?
  • What if you believed in a limitless source of those things and experiences?
  • Have you ever put aside limiting beliefs and observed that the doors opened to what you want?
  • Are you willing to experiment now?
  • Take out a piece of paper and write down items that reflect what you see on social media that you would like to call in. Be as audacious as you would like…. no holds barred, with the caveat that it cause no harm to yourself or anyone else. This is your bucket list.
  • As you look at each one, get a sense of how you feel in your gut. Is it an uh oh or an oh yes?
  • Ask yourself why you want these things or experiences?  Are they truly heart and soul rewarding? Do you want them because they make you feel better about yourself, or to ‘keep up with the Joneses?

I have been on Facebook for the past five or six years and find it to be a place where I can share my thoughts and discover what is occurring in the lives of others. My personal rule is that I don’t post what I don’t want the world to know….since they will. Some of the people with whom I connect are face to face family and friends, some I may never meet and others have morphed from cyber friends to hug to hug and heart to heart connections.  I appreciate that people share their joys and sorrows, that they ask for and offer prayers and healing energy, that they celebrate and grieve together. Most people who post on my page are life affirming. When people come to my ‘yard’ to play, the rules are that there is to be nothing racist, sexist, homophobic, misogynist, violent, or xenophobic posted. No name calling or throwing sand or verbal jibes.  Rarely have I needed to step in and moderate. In this election year, it has gotten a little contentious and I have sometimes been called on to separate warring- with- words parties. Blessedly, they have backed off.

A study that occurred a few years ago, initiated by two German universities found Facebook envy run amok.

The researchers discovered that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most.

“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” researcher Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University told Reuters.

It would be interesting to see how many were already dissatisfied with their life circumstances and social comparison exacerbated this condition. It is unlikely that it would exist in a vaccuum.

Drop the comparisons by recognizing that there are always tradeoffs. Another thing to consider is that we never know, unless we are allowed behind the curtain, what is happening that people don’t share. Behind the bright smile could flow tears over death or the ending of relationship. Illness or financial challenge could be masked by bravado.

What if those who seem to bragging about how amazing their lives are, are doing it to boost their own morale or to attract the kind of life they desire. ‘Acting as if,’ is not the same as ‘fake it, ’til you make it.’ Instead, it helps in the process of conscious creation. When you use all of your senses to place yourself on the movie screen or stage of your life, it is as if you are programming your body, mind and emotions to prepare for its arrival. It is a technique that has benefitted clients over the years and it has been a successful tool that I use in my own life as well.What if, instead of envying, you could celebrate with your friends, knowing that a ‘rising tide lifts all boats.’?  If someone succeeds in a career area that you desire, that tells you it is possible. Clicking the ‘like’ button or even the newer model ‘love’ button in response will give you both a boost. Adding a comment that reinforces what you wish for them is a bonus. Imagine how you would like them to respond to good news you have to share.

In that way, both your virtual and actual lives could be on the same page.



Is Cyber Life Better Than Real Life?

Edie Weinstein, MSW, LSW

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APA Reference
Weinstein, E. (2016). Is Cyber Life Better Than Real Life?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Oct 2016
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