In today’s world, everyone wants to be envied, says James Marriott in The Times. Calling someone “enviable” is considered a compliment. We talk about our glitzy holidays, expensive purchases and picture-perfect children “as loudly as we can”. Online, we no longer communicate so much as “advertise at each other as PR agents for our personal brands”. And we do all this to make our friends, family and colleagues envious. The cocktails, the cars, the expensive clothes. They don’t just show that we’re having a great time – they “prove our superiority”. Envy has, somehow, become the predominant “social emotion” of our time.

What Is Social Media Envy?

Envy is that painful longing to have what others have. And if you’ve ever felt envious of people you see on Facebook or Instagram, you are not alone. Because of social media, people are constantly bombarded with updates about friends, family, or acquaintances and their achievements, travels, and seemingly perfect lives.

So it’s hard not to fall victim to envy, jealousy, and resentment. This phenomenon is called social media envy—and it has become so pervasive that numerous studies have even linked it with symptoms of depression.

With social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on the rise, many people’s social skills are decreasing.

According to a new study on, about one-third of people communicate less with their family members and friends because they can follow them on social media.

Nearly 60% of those in the study viewed a friend as having a better life because of what they posted on social media while more than 60% of social media users feel worse after finding out someone “unfriended” them online.

A total of 54% of social media users feel upset when no one ‘liked or commented’ on a picture they posted and nearly half were jealous when they saw a friend had more likes than they did.

Only 31% of users weren’t bothered by the number of likes they received on a post.

Another alarming fact is that the amount of information people are posting online can lead to dangerous situations.

But on social media, “the envious can have their revenge”. For my money, much of the “moral fury” that drives cancel culture is rooted in envy as much as in politics. Most people don’t really care about the issues they say upset them – they just want to bring more successful people down a peg or two. What exacerbates this is the fact that social media puts everyone on the same level. Back in the day, celebrities were seen only via the “exotic means of newspapers, radio and television”; now they have regular old Twitter and Instagram like the rest of us. So be careful before posting that next glamorous life update on social media. Being envied may be a mark of success – but it also puts a target on your back.