Social Media often has a bad press. On a bad day it is true that posts I see on my timeline can trigger feelings of envy. Below are the kinds of thoughts I have noted down as I have thought about what triggers these thoughts:
I am envious of everyone and it makes me sick.
I envy the people in long term relationships that can introduce others into their lives without it totally fucking everything up.
I envy those that can talk honestly about their desires to each other without someone flouncing off in a sulk that could last for days and threaten the business that they own together and the stability and happiness of children they parent.
I envy people who can still talk about a soulmate, a one true love, that can hold onto the fairy tale that I can no longer see the magic in.
I envy those that seem to be able to be human with each other, not perfect, or seeking an unattainable state of unconditional love.
I envy people who like themselves, who can carry on liking themselves when they get things wrong, who can forgive themselves for not being perfect and not getting it right all the time.
I envy those who can speak their mind to each other, unafraid that this will be the straw that breaks the relationship’s back. The ones that can actually be mean about each other, and hear it and still love each other, or even go a little way into not loving each other and then come back together again.
I envy those that can have ‘the talk’, can decide to stop living together and not have to bad mouth each other because of it, those that can divide things equally and fairly and who can set a good example to their children.
I envy those that can enjoy flirting with others without the guilt of the ‘one and true love’ story and without the expectation that they will be everything to each other from that point on.
I envy those whose relationship stands up to the test of time, who when they have to work on the relationship are not trying to reweave something that should just be unpicked and started again from the beginning.
I envy those who leave and don’t look back, who don’t carry on second guessing themselves in every relationship afterwards.
I envy those who have a partner who will take photos of them to their specifications. Who will join in with their project and not just ‘leave them to it’ which is really just a convenient way of abdicating responsibility and alleviating themselves of the requirement to be involved.
I envy those who have and appreciate the kind of partner I was. Committed, involved, proactive and endlessly willing.
I envy people who have the kind of freedom that I have and who are able to enjoy it to the full without looking back like some kind of Lot’s Wife figure.
Social Media exacerbates this envy. Showing me images of what I feel I don’t have. Encouraging me to contrast, compare and find my own life wanting. Showing me where I have failed. Showing me what I have lost. Showing me what, it seems, others have that I covet.
It’s a fine line between envy and jealousy, between recognising that what I see is what I want and aspire to and feeling that someone else has both my slice of that particular pie and their own, and there is no more to go around.
And yet, without social media I would still be moving blindly through life on the relationship escalator (a term I have been introduced by social media). I would not have met the wonderful people I have met. I would not has tested my wings and learnt I could fly. I would not have a safe perch to return to every night. Social media is many things, to many people but to me it has been a connection to something I have struggled to identify most of my life and that is what I actually want. In my envious responses to other’s posts I can access my desire, my needs and my aspirations in a way that I had, until now, found pretty much impossible.
This seems counter intuitive doesn’t it? Surely for social media to be a good influence it should impart healthy positive feelings? As I write this I realise that in fact what I encounter here is my shadow, my despised other, my difficult self and that is actually a good thing in my world. As I imbibed the ‘good girl’ ethic from birth and strove most of my life to be one to the detriment of my personal development and that of my relationships social media allows me a) to have a glimpse into a world where women are not being good girls and b) recognise through my reaction to that world what I actually do want.
Social media is a mirror. An intensely personal mirror, one that I have grown through looking into and one that I am grateful for. It is also the primary method of almost continual contact not only with my love but also with many people I now count as friends who see a different version of me to the one many people who have known me for years have. An authentic me, able to articulate desire and envy and upset and joy, filled with curiosity and empowered to fulfil that part of myself by the support of the people here.
My list of envies have become a list of aspirations, some of which I am in process of achieving. Cheered on by my social media friends.