Hey Jealousy: Social Media’s Envy Effect

Jealousy within an ensemble is something people are generally uncomfortable admitting to or talking about, and social media can amplify this feeling even among the best of friends and colleagues. Louis Levitt shares how he conquered his own fears and ditched the anxiety.

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Louis Levitt

How many times have you posted a pic like the one above on social media, or seen one and rolled your eyes? Guilty as charged on both sides of the coin. So what’s that about, and why is it important?

Sometimes I can’t take your perfect life anymore. Logging into Facebook makes me want to vomit. Your exciting new job, the beautiful kids, the throwback Thursday photos of your beach wedding that I wasn’t invited to.

By Tamar Charney

It’s no secret that social media is basically just a highlight reel. In my case, yes, I’m playing great concerts at prestigious venues here and there, and I’m grateful. But that’s not my day-to-day reality. I’m also changing blow out diapers, dealing with toddler tantrums, making budgets, writing grants, and practicing scales. Also in reality, someone has hit my car twice in the last two months, and I have only a handful of gigs scheduled for this summer. That can be scary. Would I put that on social media? Not in a normal situation. Too scary, right? But I’m probably gonna share this article on social media, so I’ll let you know how that feels after the fact.

Here’s the deal. I’m creative, so I just started a record label and production company called Bright Shiny Things. It’s fun! I only have a few performance gigs this summer, but that means more time having fun with Bright Shiny Things. I will also have time to attend awesome stuff like Mark Rabideau’s 21cm Institute entrepreneurship program and the mind-blowingly good Silkroad Global Musician’s Workshop run by the undeniable multi-genre cellist Mike Block. Also, in reality, less gigs means more time with the family and wife. (Maybe I can learn to prevent blowout diapers?) Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy parenthood and business building as much anyone, but I don’t post that on social media because I feel like I need people to focus on what would be considered the “successes.” Social media is all about good news—a filtered view of how we want others to perceive us and how we want to be seen.

But back to the eye roll…what’s that mean? Sometimes it means we’re jealous.

I don’t think jealousy within an ensemble is something people are comfortable admitting to or talking about.

Why is that important to talk about in our art? I don’t think jealousy within an ensemble is something people are comfortable admitting to or talking about, but I’ve experienced this first hand, as have so many of us.

My colleagues in Sybarite5 are all great musicians, and they are also entrepreneurs. They have a lot of super legit performances and projects going on at all times, and rightfully so.

Violinist Sami Merdinian is in demand as a concert soloist in South America, performs often with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and founded the New Docta International Music Festival in Argentina.

Sarah Whitney is no slouch either. She plays violin with the Seeing Double Duo, as well as in a trio project with fellow Sybarite5ers Angela and Laura called Trifecta, and she launched an interactive concert series called Beyond the Notes in the Boston area.

Angela Pickett, in addition to playing viola with Sybarite5 and the above-mentioned Trifecta, is in demand as a solo fiddle player in Broadway’s Tony award-winning Come From Away. She also posts beautifully curated vegan food pics on Instagram.

Laura Metcalf, our cellist, is also a soloist, as well as having a duet called Boyd Meets Girl with her husband and classical guitarist Rupert Boyd. She is a long-time member of the cello/percussion ensemble Break of Reality and just launched a pretty kick-ass concert series called Gather NYC.

The list goes on and on.

I have to be honest, when I found out about some of my colleagues’ projects on social media my initial reaction was probably tinged with some…jealousy! How dare they? Would this mess up Sybarite5? #JELLY #JELLY #JELLY. But now I’m just proud of their accomplishments. How did I get there?

First, I had to figure out what jealousy is about.

Jealousy is based in fear, not in love. A little bit of jealousy can indicate a little sense of threat or fear is occurring. A lot of jealousy means there is a lot of fear. … With jealousy often comes possessiveness, suspicion, anger, controlling acts and a lot of other negative behaviors.

YUCK, right? So, jealousy is based in fear, but if you read my first NewMusicBox post, you know that I’m not interested in having more fear in my life. So let’s unpack this a little.

It’s pretty obvious to me why I’d be jealous of the outside gigs the people in my own ensemble take on. It’s the fear of losing these great colleagues to other (better?) projects and the risk of damage to Sybarite5, something I’ve worked so long to create. Then how will I feed my kids? Any parent knows this is real and powerful fear.

But there is a solution to this: you have to confront your fear. For me that happened recently. We had our first sub with Sybarite5 in nine years. You know what? It was fine. The concert was fine. The residency was fine. It was more than fine! We had a great week, and I’m not afraid of it anymore. Poof. My fear is gone, and my jealousy along with it.

So now I’m happy to say that I’m not afraid to lose the above because of what someone else is doing. I will still be able to do my own thing, with Sybarite5 or otherwise. I have to have confidence in this. I created Sybarite5, and I can continue to create new things. It’s part of who I am. It’s never gonna stop. I like making stuff! So I don’t stress anymore if I see those posts on social media celebrating success because the jealousy is so unhelpful to the creative process.

So when you see this #thrilled2announce stuff posted, know a few things:

1. Objects in the mirror are not as large as they may appear.
2. While that person is probably mostly excited about whatever they are posting about, that person is probably also struggling with things in one way or another, perhaps just as much as you are.
3. You may be jealous, but you don’t have to be once you let go of your fear.

This is post four of four, so I want to give NewMusicBox a real thanks for allowing me to write. It’s been a great experience, and I think I learned a lot about what makes me tick. It’s my sincere hope that these articles help others find their own path a little quicker than I did.