Archived Story

Joanie Miars Gentry: Be the envy of all your ‘friends’

Published 10:33pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I just finished watching a video my friend posted on Facebook of dogs doing hilarious  things. I know I should be continuing my (thus far unsuccessful) efforts with my “Learn to Read Latin” book. But I’m not; I’m on Facebook, audibly chuckling as dogs of all sorts cavort. Sigh.

Are social networking sites beneficial to our society? Or could the Japanese nuclear plants all experience total meltdown unnoticed as we sappily clicked away, addicted to voyeuristically reading our friends’ status updates and following links to the pages they have “Liked” (to see if we might want to “Like” them too)?

You see, I think that there are many morally corrupt aspects of the human experience that are propagated by the use of these sites. Today I will discuss the envy they often incite.

I truly do think that envy, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, has found a home on social networking sites. One of the worst aspects of this sin is the insidious nature of it. It creeps up on people without warning. We just don’t realize that we are in the grip of envy, until it has caused us some sort of emotionally painful spasm toward the person(s) we envy. “Envy” has been defined by Merriam-Webster as “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.”

You have to admit that there are some folks who use Facebook as their own personal PR machine — an avenue to showcase the sweetness of their lives for all their friends to admire. I mean, c’mon, I have one friend who only posts status updates when they’ve just returned from a fabulous trip, bought a brand new car or motorcycle, won a big civic award or perhaps just finished a blessed mission trip to build a blessed school in a blessed third-world country! This seems somewhat blatant to me. Flagrant boasting, even, one might say.

I mean, I would never do that kind of thing — ever! When I posted photos of my trip to Greece and later my trip to Italy, those were actually opportunities for me to share the historical and sociological aspects of those countries with my friends and thereby enrich them culturally. Showing off is just not in my makeup. I’m more the kind of person who derives joy from sharing my experiences with those who may never have the opportunity to have those same experiences than the kind who would flaunt my privilege. Ahem.

Then there is the Facebook friend who is oh-so-close with her grown children. It’s always photos of Susie and photos of Joey and photos of all of them together for family parties and family vacations. Pictures of all of them on snowmobiles, or at the beach, or having picnics. Family, family, family … why, they just can’t seem to stand to be apart from each other for a moment!

A bit too blatant a display of “togetherness” for my taste, though. I never post too many photos of my grown children. I mean, one doesn’t want to crowd their grown kids too much. After all, one might be accused of “crossing boundaries” or “interfering” or (God forbid) being a Facebook “creeper” or some such thing. Ahem.

Yes, I can definitely see how Facebook and other social networking sites are certainly a vehicle for encouraging envy, which is categorically a sign of corrupt moral character in any society. I suppose that’s true, yes, I absolutely believe it is. In fact, I feel so strongly about this that I have to go update my status with a warning about this very grave risk to our moral character right now…

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