27 Jul JEALOUSY, JEALOUSY: THE WORLD OF INTERNET ENVY
All your friends are so cool, you go out every night/In your daddy’s nice car, yeah, you’re livin’ the life/Got a pretty face, pretty boyfriend, too/I wanna be you so bad, and I don’t even know you
If you have been living under a rock and don’t recognize these lyrics, let me enlighten you.
The song “jealousy, jealousy” by everyone’s favourite new pop-princess Olivia Rodrigo perfectly captures the experience of using social media. We all recognize that Instagram is a highlight reel, and we should not allow ourselves to believe the narrative that people look and live the way they do on social media – but that’s easier said than done.
“Jealousy, jealousy” has become the vessel for TikTok’s newest trend, where users show off the lives of girls like Lily Rose Depp and Bella Hadid. Montages depicting their boyfriends, closets, and ability to be on a yacht one day and the Met Ball the next, are both my favorite and least favourite thing on the internet right now.
On one hand, I fall way too easily for the Instagram It-girl envy. For sake of my own integrity, I will not disclose the number of times I have bought something simply because Kendall Jenner wore something similar—but it’s happened more than once. And I know I am not the only one; the sound has over hundreds of thousands of videos on TikTok alone.
The “jealousy, jealousy” trend opens up the door to once again discuss social media’s toxicity. I know we have all heard the arguments before: social media is fake and destroying our self esteem, photoshop is the one true enemy against young girl’s happiness, etc. But I feel that as social media becomes more and more of an uncontrollable machine, its ability to romanticize the life of these models is getting further out of hand.
This is all compounded by the fact that Instagram is no longer a place for fun-selfie sharing, but a platform to launch a star-studded career. Long gone are the days of meaningless posting; we are in an era where social media is a career, and what you post could dictate sponsorships, brand deals, and thus, your net worth. If 20-somethings in LA are surviving off of false narratives and likes—well, they will do whatever possible to bombard us with their perfect lives. In many ways, as the rise of the Instagram model takes place, we see people making more money than ever by relying on the envy of young girls.
As Miss Rodrigo muses in her song, comparison will kill us all slowly. Many adults may think these trends are irrelevant—we have been warned for years that social media is toxic for our self-esteem and mental wellbeing. But this new era of internet envy is a different creature. Long gone are the days of the untouchable celebrity, and now we see girls our age, with somewhat humble beginnings, living fantasy lives and looking good while doing it. I was never fazed by Kim Kardashian’s insane body proportions—but yes, I would trade places with one of the Hadid’s in a second.
Social media envy is compounded by the fact that trends are moving faster than ever. We, as impressionable consumers, barely have a second to breathe, let alone critique the false narratives being thrown at us. In turn, we are so drawn in by the new and flashy trends, that we don’t realize just how miserable we are obsessing over the newest Instagram It-Girl. Even Olivia Rodrigo went from being a relatable teen who was getting her start on a fairly famous show to a pop-sensation who only wears perfectly-cool outfits while hanging out with the likes of nepotism-babies like Iris Apatow.
In fact, the jealousy we have for our favourite Instagram influencers who, as previously mentioned, feel so just barely out of reach, that we inadvertently try to make our Instagrams just as envy-provoking. Returning to TikTok (because what is social media today without it), the trend of romanticizing your life means that your feed is plastered with the highlight reel of models, actresses, and that girl from your intro to psych class. Everyone is trying so hard to combat their feelings of jealousy evoked by the internet, that they rely on the envy of others to balance out their self-esteem.
We find ourselves in a cycle of toxicity where we spend countless hours being jealous of our explore page, only to overcompensate for this wave of insecurity by posting filtered selfies on our stories. Truth be told, comments on a photo do provide an ego boost—a short lived one that quickly crashes once I refresh my feed and see another size zero model having brunch in New York while I sit on my couch watching The Bachelor. Our true self-esteem has grown accustomed to taking constant hits from social media, and it feels like our only way to regain that confidence is to succumb to the same fakeness.
Will we ever be able to have social media that does not feed off of the jealousy of young women? I don’t know. Some efforts to make Instagram “casual” again paves a promising path to combatting the glitz and glamour of influencers. And there are influencers who, contrary to the stereotypical LA nightclub fiend, are trying to showcase more realistic lives. And yet, similar to many other things in life, we cannot control the action; we can only how we respond to it. If this piece strikes you with anything, let it be that you can take the effort to check yourself next time you comment on an influencer’s story or repost Emma Chamberlain’s recent post.
Everything online is a false narrative. If we know it’s posed, planned, and far too perfect to be true— why allow it to determine our own self worth?