Jealousy by mail

I was super stoked about my postcard from a person who is a member of an online group I belong to.  It was a surprise – we’d not been in communication.  There is a file where group members can share their addresses if they would like to get mail, so I left mine.  (I’ve covered up our addresses here with cough drops).

I thought it was really cute and inventive. The postcard has washi tape with botanical images on it, and rubber stamp markings. There is also a tiny envelope! How creative!


This is what was inside.


The cleverly designed thing folds out into a strip with washi tape with constellations on it.


…but now I feel left out because of all that this person got.  She posted it on the group page and tagged her, so I know it is from her.


…and here is a picture from another person – more stuff that she got from this member.


Both say it was a surprise – that they weren’t already friends with her.

I’m really jealous.

Which is a terrible thing to feel because it wasn’t like she promised me anything at all.  I should be grateful, but in comparison to the other people’s mail, I feel sad and jealous.  And I hate feeling like that.

They had no way of knowing that there was any inequality.  But I’m sure there are others in the group who didn’t get a letter and they are wondering “why not me?”

It is something I wrestle with on my personal page.  Do I share pictures of a party I went to where some friends weren’t invited? They will know they were left out.

I remember in school we were told to bring enough (of whatever) for the rest of the class – or don’t bring it to share at all. We had to include everyone.

I hate it when my friends invite people in a shared group to go to a new restaurant or experience, and don’t invite me.  I know they didn’t invite me because they either don’t tag me on the invite – which I can see because I am friends with them, or because they post pictures of the “good times with good friends”, and I wasn’t there.

I hate it.  And it keeps happening. It happened all the time with the SCA “household” I was a part of. It is part of why I finally left. It made no sense for the head of the household to question why I wasn’t hanging out with the others. He implied that my husband was controlling me, that there was something ugly going on. Yes, there was something ugly going on. The head – and his wife – and other members of the household – didn’t invite me to these gatherings. Over and over and over. How could I hang out with them if they didn’t let me know? I was especially hurt when they decided to take a jewelry making class together and didn’t invite me – knowing that was one of my interests. But to then think that I wasn’t social with them because I was in an abusive relationship? Insane.  

And last night I’d finally had it and cried big ugly tears and I still don’t feel better about it.

Social media isn’t social sometimes.  Sometimes it just lets you know how much you are missing out on.  It feels like bullying.

Think before you post. Think about the feelings that will get hurt. Think about who you are excluding. You don’t have to share everything.

Do I invite everyone to events? No. But I’m discrete about it. You don’t have to invite a whole group to some happening. You may not want a large group. You may like certain people in the group more. But be mindful that you don’t let the people who were left out know that they were left out.

Now, I can’t control if other people who were invited tell them inadvertently and thoughtlessly. But I try to do my part.

Who do you follow?

I like that the word on Facebook when you don’t want to read everything that someone is saying is “unfollow”, rather than something else like “hide” or “block”. Not following some people is a good idea.

I don’t want to follow the people who continually refuse to take care of themselves and then complain about it. I don’t want to follow the people who, through every fault of their own, are obese or have cancer or in miserable relationships or jobs. Facebook is not the place to continuously complain about migraines or insomnia or sinus headaches. If they are happening that often, go to the doctor.

I don’t want to follow people who feel it necessary to share their fear about the government, the environment, or the future. Their need to “educate” me about their pet fear of the week is disturbing. I don’t read the news for a reason. The news is full of bad news with no way out. The news and these people show only the sickness and don’t offer the cure.

I don’t want to follow people whose every post is a passive aggressive rant about the world. Where they start off everything with “Dear (fill in the blank)” – someone that they are not friends with – such as “Dear person who pulled out in front of me at the Walmart shopping mall” or “Dear postman who lost my important parcel”. They complain about how that person did something wrong that adversely affected them. They’re addressing their anger to people who don’t deserve it. The people who are reading it are not the people who harmed them – they are their friends. I’m tired of listening to their craziness and having them pour their anger upon me – someone who doesn’t deserve it.

I won’t follow these people because I’m afraid I’m going to become like them. I’m afraid that I am going to drink the Kool-Aid along with them and become just as miserable as they are. They are addicted to their own pain and they want to share it. But mostly I don’t want to follow them because I’m afraid of where they’ll lead me.

About face – on social media addiction.

Facebook has been my addiction for several years. The more I use it, the less I actually do that is meaningful. I’m trying to resist the impulse to check it multiple times an hour.

I’m like my Mom, who lit up a cigarette every 20 minutes she was awake. Instead of flicking my Bic, I’m clicking a mouse. I probably won’t get cancer from checking Facebook this often, but I’m just as surely losing pieces of my life.

So, like with any other addiction, I need to study it and replace it. I need to study the power it has over me, and dig down to what “hole” I’m trying to fill with it.

Then I need to address that underlying issue and fix it or make peace with it.

Part of that is filling the “hole” with better things. For me, that means writing and drawing and beading. If it was warmer outside I’d probably add in walking. Maybe I’ll do more yoga.

But I feel it is critical to not substitute one addiction for another addiction. Even healthy things can be misused and abused. It isn’t about the thing but the reason behind the thing or the intent.

If we are not being mindful, we are being mindless.

Being mindful is what makes us different from animals.

Prayer makes me mindful. Being thankful makes me mindful. I’ll start there.

Also, part of it is being observant. I’m noticing that I want to check Facebook, and just observing that feeling but not yielding to it. That alone is a big deal. I’m trying to make it harder to do as a way to remind me of my intention. Instead of having my phone right next to me, I’ll have it in another room, and turned off. Instead of having the Facebook icon on my Kindle, I’ve removed it from the carousel so I have to go into the Apps page to access it.

These things slow me down so that I remember. It has to be a conscious, intentional act to check it. That is my goal – to have everything I do be conscious and intentional.

Real vs. Digital

The more time I spend with social media, the less I have for other things. I know this, yet I seem to be unable to wrench myself away. I like to check in and see how my friends are doing and what is going on in the world, but I feel like there is too much noise to signal ratio. I have to wade through a lot of stuff to get to the useful bits.

How did I keep up with what was going on before? How did any of us? We did, surely, but we have forgotten the gentle arts of keeping in touch without social media. We used to call or write. We used to make time to see each other. Now that we have the ability to let all of our friends know instantly what we are doing, somehow we don’t have, or make, the time to actually have anything worth talking about.

It is like the difference between roll film and digital film. When we only had 24 shots to the roll, we were careful with our photos. We took the time to choose something interesting, to frame it nicely, and to make sure it was in focus and the exposure was good. Now, with digital film we can take thousands of pictures but only a handful will be actually worthwhile.

With digital lives, we are doing the same thing.