The Dark Side of Facebook, Blogs and Twitter

Skim through Facebook and you’ll find tons of perfect classes being taught by fabulous instructors. Online, through e-books, in-person. In just the topic you need a class in.  You’ll also find people doing amazing things: eating only raw food and loving it, painting amazing paintings, sewing breathtaking clothing,  creating work so detailed that it leaves you breathless. And not only that, they are on gorgeous, well-designed blogs with tons of paid advertising.

The quote is Pema Chodron, but the lovely painting? I’ve found 37 “original” sources for it on Google. I don’t know who did it, but it’s lovely. It’s signed, but I can’t read the signature.

How come do those people have so much time to do their work while you are working so hard and not getting enough done? And what do those people know that you don’t, anyway? How come are they getting what you need and aren’t getting? And then you suddenly snap awake and know–you are in the firm grip of social media envy.

It’s a disease you catch from your computer. From spending a lot of your time digging out the perfect technique, the best instructor, the finest. . . of everything. And then mourning that it’s not yours.

You aren’t alone. I fell for it again this morning. And it won’t be the last time. It’s a weird mix of feeling that starts with research and ends up filling you with feelings of “not enough” Suddenly you are hooked on what you can’t do and don’t have. Lack and attack.

When I get that sad, draggy, not-good-enough feeling, I get off the computer. No work is getting done, but I’m allowing myself to wallow in envy. Once the computer is shut down, I remember two things:

1. A perfect blog is not an indication of a perfect life. The blogger could have dust bunnies the size of cats, fight with loved ones, discover a stain on the rug that won’t come out, and have credit card debt that’s too high. I’m just seeing the nice polish on the exterior, and I may not want the whole package that comes with the perfect blog.

2. Marketing is built on a need that’s uncomfortable. “Write to the pain point,” is the marketing mantra. So when I see a perfect class, what I’m really envious about is the video skills or equipment. When I see a huge teaching itinerary, I’m envious of the organization, time and energy an artist took to make classes, take photos, and fill out those applications. And that was why I was on the computer to begin with–I was working on that. Envy isn’t a bad emotion unless it spill over into self-loathing (or loathing strangers.) Envy is an early warning sign of something missing from your to-do list.

I’ll still feel social media envy and I’ll still stumble. But when I can be clear about what I can and can’t accomplish (or didn’t make myself do), it feels cleaner. I know who I am again. I am enough, and armed with a to-do list.

–Quinn McDonald wishes she could be lots of things she isn’t. But she’ll have to make do with what she is, because it’s unlikely there is a fairy godmother and a transformed pumpkin in her future, and she wouldn’t want to wear glass heels anyway.