It must be nice

Sunset on the Saranac River. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

I want to blame social media for all our woes because it’s easy to do. It isolates us, sets unrealistic expectations and generates insecurity and jealousy. Even if social media is a breeding ground for all those things, we must be aware of how we and our families interact on and off various platforms.

While hanging out with my kid, I was shown how another person had commented on numerous social media posts with the words, “It must be nice.” This was not the first time this had happened. In itself, those four words seem innocuous. But no matter how I turn the phrase around my mouth, the words reek with envy. It must be nice (you have something I do not). It must be nice (you went somewhere that I did not). It must be nice (you have experiences I do not). These seemingly innocent comments can grow into long and damaging lists of negativity.

Jealousy and envy are not interchangeable words, though they are close in meaning. Jealousy is the threatening, suspicious, insecure feeling over loss of status, position, or situation in relation to someone else. Typically, jealousy involves three people–for example, you, me and an outside force that threatens what we have.

Envy is the painful feeling of wanting what someone else has, as in possessions or attributes. It involves at least two people, the person wanting what someone else has. We can experience both feelings at the same time. These emotions get a bad rap. We often address only the top layer of these resentful emotions and how they affect the recipient, who is often hurt. We must also focus on the person acting jealous and envious.

Demonstrating signs of jealousy and envy is an alarm bell. Those feelings can swirl into possessiveness, over-control, anger, and aggression if not addressed. Jealousy and envy are normal emotions we all experience, but need to be understood and controlled.

I am able to talk openly with my children as they grow older. But no matter a child’s age, the need to monitor and talk about emotions never goes away. We discussed the person’s comments and what that person may be going through. Understanding why someone does something negative isn’t releasing that person from their actions. Learning when to guide, help, or step in is a constant dance as our children grow. Being kind is a choice.


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