Whenever I am outside of Myanmar, I take advantage of faster Internet speed and gorge on one thing – Ted Talk videos. They make the best accompany when I go about getting ready for bed in my otherwise hauntingly quiet hotel room after a long day of meetings. Ted Talk is a great alternative choice when I do not want to hear about planes getting shot down or the spreading of Ebola on BBC News. Call it a tool for productive apathy.
The Talk Talk that popped up this time around was by Parul Sehgal and her examination of envy in literature and social media:
“Jealousy is exhausting. It is a hungry emotion. It must be fed. And what does jealousy like? Jealousy likes information. Jealousy likes details. Jealousy likes the vast quantities of shiny hair, the cute little pencil case. Jealousy likes photos. That is why Instagram is such a hit…We live in envious times. We live in jealous times.”
- Parul Sehgal, editor at New York Times Book Review, An Ode to Envy Ted Talk
As a recent owner of an Instagram account, I am obviously very late to the Instagram game for my generation. Because my job expects me to be just a touch keenly aware of the pulse of the popular culture, I have to have a social media presence, even though I personally find the idea of Instagram particularly perverse. Yet, admitting you do not like Instagram for someone my age is akin to admitting you do not like Lady Dior bags. How could your taste not gravitate toward a generational icon so classy, so classic, so royal and so legendary, right? I am probably not cool in your books.
We all know life does not look like perfectly touched up Instagram photos. The social platform itself is designed for neither deeper communications nor expressions. Instagram is not exactly about shared meanings, but it is about brand promotions, more so than other social media platforms. The Instagram feed feels like seeing someone on the street without saying hi. It does not allow for an explanation.
Because there is a thin layer between admiration and envy, I feel I have to tread Instagram waters very slowly, taking baby steps. This blog post is essentially a cry for help in finding an Instagram voice. Too much of coolness and you risk losing friends, not that this could be a problem for me. Too little and you are not accomplishing much. Where is the productive line?
In her Ted Talk, Parul Sehgal concludes that jealousy is a problem with geometry, not emotion. A matter of where we allow ourselves to stand. We do not need to be resentful of others’ excellence. We can align ourselves. What a lovely and thought-provoking conclusion!
Jealousy is my most disliked emotion. I do not like feeling jealous of others. I do not want to be an object of envy myself. I do not want a jealous partner, nor do I want to become one. It is a deal breaker when a romantic partner tries to get me riled up and makes me jealous. Jealousy makes workplaces unproductive. It is stressful and drives people away to distances. It is like you are on the other side of a thousand layers of glass walls and there is nothing you could do to make better of the situation.
Thought this song aptly captures the sentiment of this post:
Trying to make it through the wall
You can see me if you are tall
And I know that I am in space
And I know that it’s not real
It’s just the way I feel