Laugh. Then, Let it go. Let it go.

On Thanksgiving Eve I was watching the news feeling pretty content. I was safe and warm in my home and we had about seven inches of snow on the ground in Northeast Pennsylvania. I was happy about seeing extended family on Thanksgiving and felt a little extra joy seeing the twinkle of Christmas lights reflecting off the first real snow of the season. Then my glimmer faded as I heard a news story about a new “illness” or “problem” we have here in America.  I’m going to paraphrase. It’s basically Envy Caused by Social Media Posts.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Really Jeannine? You couldn’t think of a clever acronym for it? You’re a writer and a comedian. Ugh!”  I know. I desperately wanted to create an acronym that I believe fits the new disorder.  I was thinking of something like PUHLEASE,  UKIDDN or REALE, to express some things I was loudly saying to the TV screen when this story aired on ABC.

The story basically reported that women are feeling extra pressure these days and feeling financial envy because of posts to Facebook and other social media sites by women showing how “happy” they are and showing all of their great vacations, toys they buy for their children, etc.  Yes, “experts” were interviewed.  I believe the one woman interviewed was a psychologist who said that women are feeling incredible pressure when their 6-year-old wants to know why mommy can’t afford what other kids’ mothers are buying.  I was a bit thrown by this because I couldn’t for the life of me understand why a 6-year-old is seeing Facebook posts. Isn’t it enough that young children see so much reality on TV and in life around them. They  need to see the drivel that gets posted online too?

Then I got to thinking.  I believe that what’s at the heart of the matter is that grown women are seeing happy posts by their peers and feeling pressure to keep up and fear that if  they “fail,” they will become outcasts.  I’m sorry if I offend anyone here because let’s face it, I couldn’t possibly understand what they must be going through – you know, not being a mom and all, I never feel pressure to compete or feel less than or feel rejected, not good enough, unloved, etc., uh huh – but how is this any different than feeling like an insecure child at the lunch table in grade school or high school? I understand that there may be more deep-seated issues at work but trying to “keep up with the Joneses” is nothing new.  It was a challenge long before the Jones family could post pictures of their trip to Disney World or videos of their daughter draped in Elsa garb belting out tunes from “Frozen.”

Here are a few tips I have to help moms (and dads) who might be “suffering” from any feelings of financial envy or pressure to not only get the best seats for the Frozen on Ice show but to also post pictures the minute they’re in those hot seats to show everyone what good parents they are and how happy their child is:

•Imagine your child’s face when you tell her she is not going to see Elsa and the gang. Sad right? Now imagine her face if she had to go to bed hungry or if she was turning the light out from a hospital bed.  Some children struggle to see another day, never mind a theatrical show.  Does it add any perspective?

•Imagine a world without Facebook and Instagram. Think of times when you only showed people pictures of your children on your phone. Or think back even further to a time when you only shared pictures of your family with those who visited your home and could see them hanging on your walls. That’s a more intimate, meaningful world isn’t it? Do you really need a “like” from the Crossing Guard at your niece’s school in another state? Do you really care that the barista from Starbucks loves the costume you made for your child? Or doesn’t, because he made a better adult size Olaf costume with beads and glitter?

•Tune out people who are out of your circle of family and friends so you can actually tune in to people IN your family and circle of friends.  Spend time with real people. Don’t POST to their timeline; rearrange those letters and STOP by their house or workplace to say “Hi.”  Make plans and KEEP THOSE PLANS to have coffee, a glass of wine, a walk around the neighborhood, a play date.  Be with real people and BE IN THAT MOMENT. Don’t share the moment online.

•Know that your children (and others) learn more about you by spending time with you than from anything you post.  At the end of the day, your children will be more influenced by your actions than any nice lessons that Elsa or Anna impart through their show tunes.

I know this is easier said than done. I care what people think too. I post pictures and updates like most red blooded Americans do.  I love when people like what I post and it means something to me when they make a nice comment. But let’s not get carried away.  I have a hard time feeling empathy for someone who has a bad case of  “financial envy” because of what she sees on Facebook. Everyone could be suffering from something.  Think of women who desperately want to be mothers and maybe after years of trying fertilization procedures, can’t. What kind of envy do you think they might have when they scroll through Facebook? I’ve more or less chosen to be childless so no one is going to cry for me Argentina, but it does make an impact on me from time to time when I see every mom post every imaginable moment day after day.  Thankfully I know that I have the choice to sign out from Facebook, look only once in a while or just look, but choose to not let it mean more to me than it should.

So I say, let yourself get worked up with envy (or whatever you feel after looking at social media sites) for a few minutes (or a week), and then, LAUGH at your silliness, count your true blessings and let it go, let it go!!