The dictionary defines ‘to covet’ as ‘to desire eagerly something that belongs to another” or “wanting to make someone’s stuff one’s own”. Regardless of the religion to which we belong, or the moral code that we follow, we will find that the idea, ‘Do Not Covet,’ is a rule that is highly valued. In other words, it is recognized that people should not desire and take what is not theirs. In many cases, the desire for something that belongs to another becomes so great that the person desiring the thing becomes irrational. Coveting could also be seen as leading people to be very depressed, jealous, and unhappy.
Social Media and Jealousies
Nowadays with so much personal sharing on social media, users usually display their accomplishments and material possessions. According to research, while some people are on social media for companionship, for entertainment, to maintain relationships, some are there for social comparison – in a word, to show off. Social Comparison Researchers have also shown that these social comparisons could lead to so much competition that it could lead to depression and unhappiness. However, for some users of social media, social comparison may not matter much, but for others it is so important that they are constantly checking their social media accounts to the point of distraction to see what has just happened or what was just posted.
Driven to Exaggeration
Social comparison can often lead to people being driven to exaggeration about their own state, which has a similar effect on their friends, leading to an escalation of exaggeration among friends and acquaintances. This raises the spectre of jealousies and coveting. However, on the other hand, with this social comparison, people can use social media for sharing and genuine friendships, especially when this is supported by offline interactions.
“Thou Shalt Not Covet”
As expressed above, it is easy to see how some users of social media, particularly Facebook, may find themselves wanting or coveting what their friends have, and reaching the point where they are very unhappy and even depressed. This is evident in what some researchers refer to as ‘Facebook addiction”. As pointed out, “The freedom of self-presentation can make Facebook users prone to presenting idealized versions of themselves online, and researchers have found that consuming large amounts of information about other people can elicit feelings of envy. That is, people who regularly use Facebook are more likely to agree that others have better lives than them and that life is unfair, whereas those who have a more active offline social life appear to have a more balanced view of other people’s lives” (Chakraborty, March 10, 2017).
If Facebook is used in moderation, it can help to develop relationships and even improve a person’s self-esteem. If it is abused or overused, it could have negative consequences on the lives of users.
Some researchers counsel using social media, particularly Facebook, responsibly. This would include undertaking an intervention if one realizes that one is addicted to Facebook. Below are some suggestions on how to deal with Facebook addiction.
Spend Less Time on Social Media
Research studies on the negative effects of social media addiction on individuals reveal that while it was almost impossible for research participants to stop their Facebook use, it was possible for them to reduce the amount of time spent. After a period of three weeks being part of the research study, participants showed a lower level of depression. By taking this intervention, participants were found to spend less time on social media, which also increased the amount of time they had for study, for meeting with friends, and for other uses, and they were far less depressed.
Choose Times for Being on Facebook
Researchers advise that rather than be ever ready to check one’s Facebook account whenever something is posted, users should select their own time when they would do so. More than that, they should decide ahead of time how much time they would spend. Failing this, users of Facebook and other social media have been found to spend several hours merely going through postings, and could waste much valuable time that should be used otherwise. In the meantime, they are seen to be making social comparisons and become more depressed. Attention is given to students, especially university students, who often have to sacrifice time between Facebook and social media on the one hand, and their studies on the other.
Balance Life with More Social Offline Activities
Facebook users are encouraged to balance the amount of time they spend on social media with the time they actually spend socializing in person with their friends. While Facebook friends are great, being able to meet with friends personally is a better indication of having a social support system, one of the benefits of being in touch with friends.
Don’t Compare Your Beginning with Someone’s Ending
For all those on Facebook who may experience the negative impacts of social comparison, a word of encouragement is not to compare oneself to others. People are on different paths and are at different stages of their personal journeys. While some may be at the beginning, others may be in the middle, while others may be at the end. Making comparisons is fruitless, considering that people all live unique lives that should be celebrated, not compared to the lives of others. In this way, there is no need for coveting either position or material possessions of friends and acquaintances.
Chakraborty, A. (March 10, 2017). Facebook addiction: An Emerging Problem. Retrieved from https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2016.111203
Hou, Y., Xiong, D., Jiang, T., Song, L. & Wang, Q. (2019). Social media addiction: Its impact, mediation, and intervention. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 13(1), Article 4. Retrieved from https://cyberpsychology.eu/article/view/11562/10373
Ryan, T., Chester, A., Reece, J. & Xenos, S. (2014). The uses and abuses of Facebook: A review of Facebook addiction. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 3(3). 133-148
By Israelin Shockness at www.successfulyouthliving.com and at www.successfulyouthlivingblog.com