Envy & Jealousy on Facebook – What New Research Has Revealed

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 post, The Dangers of God’s Favor,

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?

See also 3 Things That Break the Back of Envy

Join over 25,000 other readers and receive free blog updates. If you subscribe by Email, you will receive my Next Reformation Seminar as a free gift. By subscribing, you also won’t miss a post. If you are new to the blog, be sure to check out my Top Posts of All Time. I look forward to your input and comments. Be part of the conversation!
facebooktwitterlinkedinmail

Comments

  1. Jared Gustafson says

    “Technology has made is a friend of the world and a stranger to our neighbor.” Topics like these interest me Frank. Thank you for sharing. I truly believe contentment and constant joy are some of the largest offenders of the gospel. Every worldly and religious institution alike are in the pursuit of something greater…and we stand in the face of this rat race chase for satisfaction and are able to say with confidence, “everything I could have ever wanted I’ve found in Him, and His people.” Total blissful ecstatic satisfaction and joy! We truly have found…been found by Him.

    Blessed are those who huger and thirst for they will be FAT!

    Psalm 35:10
    Even young lions suffer hunger, but this who seek will lack no good thing–including twinkles and bonbons.

  2. Laura says

    Interesting post about facebook. I enjoy fb but i dont post very personal things and.have nothing worth bragging about. I do share jokes and interesting posts on many topics that interest or outrage me. Friends and family interact as i do with them. But i have no christian group that i meet with.in Real Life. None that has fit and little time.in my 41 hour working week which is over a Sunday and.into 5 evenings. Does that make me.not wise or spiritual? I am just trying to stay happy and sane in challenging life. Fb is not a problem for me. Though jealousy towards me usually in Real Life has been. It baffles me. We all gave DIFFERENT blessings and DIFFERENT challenges/hard things. I thank God for.my blessings, thank Him for how how blesses others, trust him with the trials and lack

  3. Katie says

    So… My question is… How does one change their heart to not so easily become jealous? How do we not be envious and bitter? We are human, but it seems easier for some than others.

  4. Stephanie says

    …and checking facebook everyday, seeing people communicate and share with one another their accomplishments and their adventures, but when id share mine, it seemed like no one cared… or didn’t respond in the same way. I was beginning to put my self value on Facebook. My younger sister is a flourishing guitarist/singer and shes got a pretty decent fanbase established… im excited for her and i want to see her go far.. but i cant help but feel a bit jealous because my parents are wanting to help further her talent by helping her go to these rather expensive camps and classes and shes complaining they support her too much… i am a struggling comic artist/novelist and my parents never did anything nearly as generous for me.. i had to pay my way and set up fundraisers. My parents never really had as much faith or had more faith because they know im strong and will make it one day.
    But this is a perfect example of how twisted emotions can occur.

  5. Stephanie says

    Good blog, Frank.

    I’ve run into this jealousy and envy thing on Facebook first hand. Me being the one who is jealous/envious. My family members/friends would post about their lives: what latest gadgets they got or trips they went on… or even just how their life is in general. And sadly, sometimes it gets to me because God’s got me in a pretty rough part of my life. Its so easy during those times to warp and twist things.. and become bitter.

    I haven’t however gone as far as to tear someone down over it… I’m more of an introverted individual and i internalize a lot…so i start beating myself up.. its a rather dark,sick, twisted process. And i used to be a Facebook -aholic

  6. Yommie says

    Yep. Some people write about the newest iPad their husband just bought for them on Facebook. And I feel a tiny guilty for buying my wife just a pen. Yeah…that does happen.

  7. Joanne says

    Well said…and I was delighted to read your comment on the follow-up blog (which you mentioned you had neglected to post on this one), “The wisest, most spiritual, and most fruitful Christians that I know (personally) aren’t on Facebook or Twitter.” Yes, that did bless me because (as you probably have guessed) I do not go to either one.
    Thank you for the wise words and…the blessing!

  8. Jim Berry says

    This falls right in line with a study published in “Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking” in 2012 found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the happier they perceived their friends to be and the sadder they felt as a consequence” (by Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge, “They are Happier and Have Better Lives than I Am;: The Impact of using Facebook on Perceptions of Others’ Live.

    Tullian Tchividjian in his book “Glorious Ruin” made some comments on pgs. 84-86, about the ever present loneliness and dishonesty that promotes a “me-focus” behavior. Another journalist wrote, “the price of this smooth sociability is a constant compulsion to assert one’s own happiness, one’s own fulfillment…Being happy all the time, pretending to be happy, actually attempting to be happy – it’s exhausting” (Stephen March, “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” Atlantic, May 2012).

    As Tchividjian says, it has “turned our lives into one never-ending accountability group, with out profiles functioning as the “self” we present tot he world for measurement and scrutiny…Like legalistic accountability groups with it’s me-focus behavior (and appearance)”(pgs. 84-85).

    Don’t get me wrong, I think there are still some good aspects about facebook in regards to sending messages to family members, but by in large, I think we can even unintentionally, put up a false reality for others that doesn’t tell the whole story of our lives. It seems as if many can’t help but want to “make the right impression” for others to see. Those on the receiving end, are just getting blimps in time of experiences people are going through. So now, to avoid me-focus and all the things about my life, I prefer to limit facebook for quotes from my favorite authors that uplift Jesus.

    Just a few thoughts, thanks for sharing Frank.

  9. CatherineS says

    I can’t speak as to whether someone has tried to hurt me due to jealousy, but there’s a blogger I see all too often on FB who is obviously filled with envy and jealousy of other bloggers. Rather than lifting up Christ and encouraging His body, he tears down others and boasts about what he does for Christ. He dresses it all up trying to sound spiritual, discerning and insightful, and, unfortunately, those who are spiritually immature or bitter are drawn to it. But, I’m glad to be able to say that there are also many who perceive what he is trying to do and the spirit of envy in which he is doing it.

  10. Vinny says

    Besides the fact many people don’t even desire deep, personal and intimate LOVE relationships because of the separation many people post things they would never say face to face with people. :-(

  11. says

    Frank,

    Not surprised by this at all. First because I would have to say guilty as charged. I have found my self at times wondering after reading facebook if I even have a life. When the Facebook asks for an update I hardly know what to say, I work most of the time, between 4 different jobs, not complaining it is just that way it is.

    I did one time share on facebook that we should only be allowed to talk about others and not ourselves and only say positive things.

    Another verse that is great ” let another mans lips praise you”

  12. says

    In answer to the question – yes. I grew up dirt poor but God has blessed our family over the last decade or so. My family’s reaction to my career success has often surprised me.

  13. Sue says

    Here’s a sample prayer to deal with envy and jealousy in your life: “Lord I recognize envy and jealousy. I take responsibility for it in my life and all my generations back to Adam and Eve on both sides of my family, and all my generations forward, (Exodus 20:5) and I repent of any open door to envy and jealousy. (I John 1:9)

    Now envy and jealousy, I take authority over you, I bind you, and I cast you out in Jesus’ name, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, come and heal my broken heart, and tell me your truth.”

    Then listen and let the Lord correct the root of the envy and jealousy by replacing the lies of the enemy with His Truth.

    Also be ready to pray the same prayer again if you see that your thoughts or actions are leaning towards envy and jealousy, since Luke 11:26 reminds us that it may try to come back.

    I learned this from the ministries of Henry Wright at Pleasant Valley Church in Georgia, and the Wellspring ministry in Alaska and this prayer tool has been very helpful in my Christian walk.

    “Envy and Jealousy” can be replaced by anything you find that you have opened a door to….fear, lust, bitterness, etc.

  14. says

    I’m not sure if anyone has ever been envious of me due to something I’ve posted online. Although I see the truth in that study about 110%. It seems the internet is a great place for the humble-brag. It takes restraint to keep from posting about something awesome you did or purchased, but more than not, it’s better to just keep silent online when it comes to personal matters. I’ve slowly been learning that.

    Also, it’s been a while, Frank. I hope you’re doing well!

  15. says

    I left face book because I felt hurt so often. Not jealous, but hurt. My life is much better without facebook! It’s like the sun is shining brighter!

  16. KELLIE says

    Frank, thank you for an insightful post. I no longer post on facebook. However,Facebook serves as a postive enitity for introducing businesses, scholarships and other positives experiences about family and friends. When posters spend countless hours talking about themselves, posting negative pictures of themselves and others, slandering and lying to make themselves, powerful in the eyes of others, this presents a serious problems. Some seems to take pride in posting the number of friends they have. Its seems odds that friends are now defined by the number of electronic people you don’t actually know. It appears that we are living in a “its all about me society”, even down to the point of what one wear to bed at night. I advise all to be careful about what you post on Facebook. In today’s high powered technogolist society, there are ways to tap into what you think may be impossible. Stop baring every little detial about yourself and others. It can hurt in ways that you can’t imagine. How do I know?, I have a friend who owns a business. She checks Facebook for additional references. You will be surprised to know that many potential employees are missing out on getting good jobs because what they say on interviews don’t reflect who they really are, but their comments and pictures on Facebook give an inside look.

  17. Christopher says

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

    I love that quote, so true!

  18. Robyn G says

    I believe one of the biggest clues in determing who your true friends are is not just who shows up when things are bad…but who genuinely rejoices with you, cheers you on when things are good. Last night Oprah said in her interview with L.L. Cool J that for people who are “famous” the only way to have a true, healthy long-lasting friendship is that the other person is happy with their own life…that they don’t “want” your life. I mentioned to my kids watching with me that I believe that is true for everyone…not just the “famous,” that it’s difficult sometimes for your friends to rejoice and stay true if they are not content with their own life…maybe not happy every moment…but that they don’t envy or harbor jealousy for your life. I believe social media just floods joyless, insecure, noncontented people with an onslought of images and soundbites that magnifies their own emptiness.

  19. Pete says

    Yeah, I don’t like facebook anyway and what’s happening in facebook groups on there ain’t pretty. After talking to a few of them, it seems that most are not in any kind of accountable fellowship at all. Others are narrow to their own experience. There’s a lot of bullying and veiled knife plunging. I don’t go on anymore. Its shameful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>