Envy in 2015

Of course, those feelings of envy are par for the course in this day and age. This is the Envy Generation. You can see all the details of all your friends’ lives on social media. So you know exactly what you’re missing out on.

That’s the major hallmark of envy in 2015: the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). Is there a party imagessomewhere else that you weren’t invited to? Were you offered an opportunity to go on an adventure with a friend, but couldn’t go because you had to work? Did your friend manage to score a ticket to some major concert or show, but by the time you got there, they were sold out?

FOMO is nothing new, and people have faced these fears and dilemmas since the beginning of time. But the difference is, with social media, now we can see exactly what we’re missing out on, often with photographic proof from the party or show or vacation that we didn’t get to be part of.

A Matter of Perspective

Are we really missing out, though? I mean, of course you missed that specific party or event that your friends went to, and maybe you wish you hadn’t. But are you really missing out in the long run? Your friends who take epic vacations and get great new jobs: are their lives really any better than yours?

Social media may act as a window into the lives of our friends, but we each have control over what we put in that window. We share the things we’re proud of, and the things we want other people to see, and it’s easy to forget that that’s not all there is. You see the Hawaii vacation, but you don’t see the three years of scrimping and saving to pay for it. You see the amazing new job, but you don’t see the overly-demanding boss, or the incompetent coworkers.

Most importantly, you don’t see the hundreds of problems, inconveniences, and just plain ordinary situations that your friends have to go through in between the epic moments that they post on social media. And what’s more, many of those same friends whose lives you envy, probably get that same FOMO envy when they see the events and adventures that you post on YOUR social media.

Envy and Marketing

What we’re envying isn’t people’s lives. We’re envying little soundbites and tableaus from their lives, presented without context. Essentially, we’re envying commercials for their lives. Which is what makes FOMO envy a perfect marketing tactic.

envyThe way it’s done is simply by creating those soundbite opportunities and providing the audience with that Fear Of Missing Out. Companies create an emotional connection around their brand, building excitement around what they offer. Suddenly, it’s not just a product. It’s an experience. And if you’re not a part of it, then you’ll be sighing from the sidelines as your friends talk about how great it was.

This can be reinforced by creating scarcity. “This offer expires at midnight!” “Supplies are limited! Act now!” “The first 100 customers will receive this exclusive free gift!” Suddenly, the people who act on the offer are part of an elite club—and the people who miss out are stuck envying the ones who got the special deal, looking at their social media posts and wishing they would have done it too. FOMO takes over, and people rush to take advantage of the offer.

When used well, envy can be a powerful tool to stir excitement and create demand. In fact, a little envy can be a healthy motivator to pursue a better, more fulfilling life. But don’t let it consume you. Remember that the people you envy, are probably also envying you.