“The grass is always greener on the other side”, “Keeping up with the Jones'” – just a couple of sayings that have been part of British lexicon for decades. Not sure when they came into being but I can imagine, when TV first came out, the desire to not be the last on the block with rabbit ears helped boost sales enormously. The neighbours get a new car causing envious glances to be thrown in their direction. Fancy holidays, top brand clothing, the latest smart phone…you get the picture. Our envy often means that we overextend ourselves, spending money we don’t have on items we don’t need because we are convinced we are missing out.
FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. It’s an advertising term. One way to sell a product is to make people feel that they are missing out if they don’t get it. Most people that sell things incorporate this tactic, deliberately or not. It triggers a basic need within us that dates back to our caveman days when being ostracised by your tribe would mean certain death; we developed a strategy to fit in, to make ourselves desirable to others, not wanting to differentiate too much from the crowd in case that crowd turned on us.
With life now being played out in fast forward, the desire and need for the latest gadget or clothing or cosmetic surgery is seemingly neverending. We flick through our newsfeeds and see these perfect people living perfect lives wondering why ours isn’t like that. We feel like we are missing out so we beg, borrow and steal in an attempt to achieve vaguely similar. By the time we have managed it, the object of our infatuation has already moved on. However hard we try, we are always several steps behind.
What a fucking waste of time! Instead of trying to immitate a “perfect” life run by people with considerably more resources than you have, how about just living and leading the best possible life that you can? You never know, all the extra time and money you attain might lead to untold happiness. Certainly, the constant disappointment of never being quite there will at least dissipate and you can get on with the business of being you.
Perfection is an illusion. No-one leads a perfect life and no-one is perfect. Envy is not an admirable trait, but it is a natural one. Take control of it, acknowledge it then deny it access. You cannot live a life comparing yourself to others without causing yourself misery. Surround yourself with good people who respect you and love you for who you are and forget about the rest. Rich or poor, fat or slim, young or old, we are all pretty much as happy or as sad as everyone else. Some wealthy people are suicidal, some destitute people radiate happiness. The point is that “stuff” whatever that stuff is – does not contribute to your state of being.
It came as a bit of a shock to me years ago when I realised that, due to my job as a singer in a rock band certain people looked up to me, sometimes envying my life. Apart from the awkwardness I felt upon this realisation, I wanted people to understand that, despite doing cool things, it was not all rosy in my world. That was when I opened up about my depression, using my small platform to try and show others that we all have chinks in our armour. I stopped tarting up photos of myself and was more than happy to play the fool and show people my goofy side. Once I became a (teeny-tiny) idol of sorts, I did what I could to fuck with that perception as I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel bad by portraying a false version of myself which may cause them to think less of themselves.
So next time you find yourself bitching about someone out of jealousy, stop yourself. Take stock of all the amazing qualities you have and think of all the people whose lives you touch. Remind yourself that you have been born into a time and place where you stand a pretty good chance of not being eaten by a cannibal or dying of a toenail infection aged twenty. We have access to clean water, food, heat and light. Travel is within most people’s grasp and everywhere is a potential destination. Entertainment is free; experiences can be free.
It is these things that enrich our lives, not a big screen TV.