Arts & Culture

How the “Instagram Effect” Filters Your Job Satisfaction (and What You Can Do about It)

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What if I told you that Pinterest and Instagram have something to teach you about your work life? Would you believe me?

Whether or not you are a regular Instagram user, chances are you’ve seen some of its content one way or another (a friend’s phone, a company’s website, etc.).

While the basic idea behind Instagram is essentially harmless—easily share fun photos with friends and family—just like the Force, it has a dark side.

When is the last time you saw photos from a friend’s downtown, cross-country, or international adventure? What kinds of feelings did this elicit? Perhaps you felt excitement for that person. But was there perhaps a tinge of longing? A desire to have a similar experience?

Just as Instagram can serve to spawn minor envy of others’ lives—everything looks more glamorous in sepia, right?—Pinterest also gives little snapshots of others’ lives that can misrepresent the whole.

On Pinterest, as with Instagram, we as viewers are not getting the entire story. All looks neatly displayed, perfectly groomed, and idyllic on Pinterest. It becomes a standard to which we must rise to feel like our life is attractive and worth living.

Essentially, these skewed perspectives we can form about people, jobs, or lifestyles are based on highly-selective, edited, and filtered content.

What can we learn from the ways that Pinterest and Instagram distort our view of reality in order to see how our glasses might be foggy in the workplace?

Missing the Whole Picture

Have you ever considered that what you see of another’s job are merely just fragments of the whole? Regardless of whether or not someone is purposefully putting up a façade, we rarely (if ever) see the entire picture.

The point? Discontentment can arise when we view another’s role in the workplace in comparison with our own, but we may not fully examine what causes those feelings.

Perhaps working under your CEO, executive director, or manager causes envy to arise due to her seemingly endless stream of elite breakfast and lunch meetings, connections with other higher-ups, or premier office. Maybe his level of power and responsibility is attractive to you.

Perhaps that one coworker gets to travel to exciting cities for conferences when you get (ahem!—have) to stay put in the office.

On the other side of the coin, maybe you are the traveling one and would rather not be. Maybe you look at friends or members of your church with steady, predictable—even flexible—jobs in the same city that they live. When you’re not commuting to the office, you’re traveling around the globe.

These are just a few common examples of seeing “greener grass” in the workplace, but there are numerous possibilities. Think of a time you may have felt this way—maybe you’re feeling this way now.

The Grass Is Always Greener – When It’s Filtered

It is important to realize how you may be experiencing feelings of discontentment towards your work. You may not even grasp the sheer power that such feelings have to slowly and deftly corrode your attitude at work or even your very work ethic.

As with Instagram and Pinterest, only bits of the story are shared. What’s more, the content shared is usually carefully selected and edited. When viewing such content, it is important to be aware of the network of complex features behind each pithy image. The lighting. The prep time. The artistic filters. In a nutshell, the entire, unique context.

It’s similar in the world of work; it is far too easy to approach others’ jobs with this “grass is greener” outlook when there is far more beneath the surface.

Remember, when you see the higher-up’s elite lunch meetings at haute restaurants, you may not see the pressure of being the “face” of a company or organization. When you see the travel to exotic cities and foreign cultures, you may not see the jet lag, the time away from family, the strain on relationships.

Again, these are only select examples, but let them be a guide for examining the way you think about others’ jobs in the workplace in relation to your own. Don’t let yourself be taken captive by the allure of mere snapshots. Beware the “Instagram Effect.”

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