Social media

In this age of social media, we expose ourselves to jealousy and envy many times daily. We look at our social media feeds such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and inevitably compare ourselves with others.

Time sink

Spending time going through my Facebook stream was a major time sink. Before I know it, a few hours have passed and I’m still at item number one on my task list. It was the biggest time waster on my phone, followed by Reeder, Instagram and iBooks.

There are several other such rabbit holes. Apps such as Quora, Pinterest, Tumblr, and wiki sites. However, as I didn’t have those apps on my phone, they could only suck me in if I browse to them on the Mac. Douyin, also known as Tik Tok outside China, is a culprit of late but it is quarantined in my second phone so I don’t have access to this distraction on my main phone.

My work with interior design, product design and packaging design requires research and inspiration collection on Pinterest regularly, albeit under very strict time limitations to avoid being tempted down the rabbit hole. I restrict myself to no more than three level deeps when following related links. This trick doesn’t work as well on Wikipedia for some reason.

Deleting Facebook from my phone was a liberation. I had both the Facebook and Facebook Paper apps on my iPhone back in 2014. I deleted both apps later that year, and since then my only access to Facebook on the phone was through the web version on Safari.

The decision to delete Facebook confused many of my friends. They are addicted to Facebook and can’t understand why I would delete the app and use the web version that often did not work properly on mobile.

The issues with Facebook web version on mobile helped keep me away from Facebook on my phone.


Aside from wasting my finite hours, the Facebook Newsfeed fuels jealousy. Social media fools us into seeing only the good in the lives of others without knowing the hardships they have to endure, or the hard work they put in to be where they are today.

While we are jealous of others, they in turn envy us for what we have. It is human nature not to be satisfied with what we have. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had to be greedy in order to survive.

We become accustomed with what we have and use that to gauge what we don’t have. This is known as the hedonic treadmill.


It is easy to lose sight of what we have achieved when we are so accustomed to what we have. Think back of how you felt before you reached your current status.

When you lust for something new, think back of what it was before you acquired what you had. It could be a new camera or a new car. Would you have been jealous of yourself for what you have now? Why the change in attitudes?

Realise that you have become so used to what you have that the grass starts to look greener on the other side. Accept that. Embrace your envy. Recognise your greed. Then take a step back and start to appreciate what you have.

You can rationalise your purchase but make sure you have substantial reasons to compel you to do so, not simply because you lust after something new. If you were merely clouded by blind jealousy, this perspective can remind you that you don’t actually need to make the upgrade. You just want it out of envy of others who have.


We can control what we are dissatisfied with in life by restricting what we envy. Instead of spending time going through my Facebook Newsfeed, I use the time to read good books and look at good photos.

Instead of being jealous of the possessions or achievements of others, I redirect my time towards the thinking of great minds and the photography of the master.

My jealousy becomes fuel to push myself other to become a better photographer, and to learn from the books I read. Through controlling where to channel my envy, I can use it to positively impact my output and growth.

Rather than look at how many likes or comments others get on their posts or photos, I look at how they achieve that. If their works are indeed better than mine, then I try to find the lesson in it and learn from them. If I’m sure that I can do better, then I should go ahead and do it! Write the better article or take the better photos. Being jealous of it does nothing other than waste my time and energy.

Instead of being dissatisfied with them, I redirect the feeling towards myself. I can’t change others, but I can change myself. By being dissatisfied with myself, I push myself to become better.

Reducing consumption

With the Facebook app on the phone, distraction was just a tap away. By removing such easy access, I’m able to avoid consuming content. I limit the time I spend on Pinterest and Tumblr using the Pomodoro technique. I make sure I spend more time producing content than consuming it.

And when I do consume content, I go for the best and filter out the noise. Mark Zuckerberg might have founded Facebook but he has a whole team to run his Facebook page for him. He is too smart to waste time on Facebook.

When I notice that I’m spending too much time looking at what others have done, I stop myself. Disconnect from the internet, not literally but you can do so if you are easily tempted to go online. I take out my journal and start writing. If the light is good, I pick up my camera and head out.

Consume wisely

If I’m commuting and can only choose between staring at my phone or sleeping, I’ll choose to consume the more beneficial content. I don’t have Facebook on my phone, so I’ll either be on Reeder, iBooks, Tweetbot or Instagram. In that order.

I go through Reeder quickly, finishing the shorter articles and save the longer ones to Pocket for reading later. Then I move on to iBooks. Notice that I don’t check Twitter first. My goal is to read at least a chapter a day. I know that the longer I procrastinate, the more I’ll let it drag.

Once I start reading, I’ll be hooked. I go through a chapter and if I have time and piqued to read further, I consume a few more chapters. I make it a point to finish a chapter at the very least before moving to Tweetbot.

Rather than going through my Twitter feed endlessly, I quickly go through my photography and tech lists. This helps me focus on the handles that interest me more. After that, I move on to my Instagram feed.

Can you do it?

Are you aware of how addicted you are to Facebook or social media in general? Try cutting yourself off for a day or two and see how you cope with it.

Learn with me.

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