Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
In this issue
- This week: Envy
- Virtual Snacks
- Bizarre Searches
- Joke and quotation
This week I’m talking about envy. Not jealousy, you’ll note. Strictly speaking, jealousy is when you want to hang on to something – or more usually someONE – that you’re worried of losing to someone else. When you want something that someone else already has, that’s envy.
The grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t it? Most of us would admit that they’ve sometimes envied someone else, even if it’s just to wish they had something that someone else has already got. Usually it’s on a trivial level and one which can be quite beneficial in its effects. You see the neighbour has a new car (or patio, fitted kitchen, hi-fi, camera, or whatever) and wish you had one. You don’t have the money for it at this stage. You work harder – or save, perhaps by giving up something like chocolate (or fags, booze or whatever – and get more money. You go and buy the car. Now you’ve got the car (or whatever) you wanted, and as a bonus you’re either earning more money have cut out a minor vice which is swallowing your disposable income and making you fat (or smelly, ill or whatever). Pretty good, eh? Unless, of course, you actually miss the thing you’ve cut out, or are working too many hours…
We and our neighbours used to laugh good-naturedly when they went out and bought something they’d seen in our house, or we did the same if we’d seen something in theirs. In the end, I think they were rather more serious on the home improvement front than we were – we spent our time and money on other things instead. (Yes, including fags and booze. Life’s short enough as it is without wasting time worrying about how to prolong it.)
Sometimes, though, it goes further. Rather than looking at your own circumstances and how you can change to match your neighbour’s good fortune, you wonder why she should have more than you. You start to resent her for it and to feel that if you can’t have the extra luxuries, she shouldn’t either. You feel envious. And, if you feel really envious, you start to work for a world in which she doesn’t enjoy these extra luxuries – you sneer at her housewifey, twee fitted units, you encourage the cat to crap on her patio, you run your keys down the side of her car…
Envy’s a nasty emotion all right. No wonder it made the list of Seven Deadly Sins. And it can be pretty corrosive at work too, leading into the murky world of office politics where you bitch about your boss to his boss, steal credit for your colleague’s ideas, and generally look out for ways to climb the ladder over the backs of others.
All the same, its impact can be exaggerated, and sometimes people go looking for it when it isn’t really there. A recent new book by Nan Mooney, I Can’t Believe She Did That! – Why Women Betray Other Women At Work, got the media in a tizz. Despite a devastating earthquake in Pakistan, Bush’s mindboggling revelation that the US invaded Iraq because “God told him to”, and, er, the Tory leadership contest, the papers always find space for furore over such insignificant matters as this ridiculous book. Mooney’s thesis, based essentially on her own experience, was that since starting to work in the office in large numbers some thirty years ago women have betrayed other women (and sex solidarity) to get ahead. Not surprisingly, parts of the press have leapt on this as further substantiation of the myth that women all envy each other their successes and are in permanent competition with each other. Cue the Daily Mail (surprise, surprise), which Mooney quotes on her website:
“Forget sisterly solidarity. Once she arrives in the office, it is every woman for herself. She backbites, plots and simmers resentment against her female colleagues – simply because she is jealous of their looks.
“The rantings of an embittered male boss? No, simply the views of working women themselves. More than 100 spoke frankly to American author Nan Mooney about what it’s like working with other women. And it’s not a pretty picture.”
I’d expect not. But Mooney’s book is based on selective sampling: it draws on testimonies which support her thesis and her own experience as SHE perceived it. I wonder whether she’d have been able to write the same book if she’d also considered men envious of other men, women envious of men, men envious of women, women who’ve had support from women? It might have made for a more interesting study; it would probably have been more academically robust; it almost certainly wouldn’t have sold so well.
Then again, perhaps I’m just envious…!
Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us?
If you’d like to read a bit more about the psychological and philosophical views of envy, there’s a very good page on the Stanford University website. Be warned, though – it’s quite long and more than a little heavy!
Stanford University: Envy
And for a bit of light relief, here’s something about yearning not so much for what you haven’t got – more for what you’ll never have again. YourMemories.co.uk is all about personal recollections of British life in the 1900s – organised geographically. Have a look and see if your birthplace is featured!
Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:
- spinning cowl
- 1-800 doit phone sex
- mind power lottery software
- fill your boots origin
- escallonia red hedger
- girl with hair of silver
- who said if they prick us do we not bleed
- gali email lottery
- centimetres conversion itches
- dress up as a man moustache
- martin of google british
Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“Envy is pain at the good fortune of others.”
– Aristotle (384 BCE – 322 BCE) in Rhetoric, Bk II, Chapter 10
A Rolls-Royce pulls up next to an Austin Maxi at a red light. The driver of the Maxi winds down his window and shouts to the passenger in the back of the Rolls, “Hey, that’s a nice car. Have you got a phone in your Rolls? I’ve got a phone in my Maxi!”
The electric window of the Rolls descends. The Rolls owner looks over and says simply, “Yes, I have a telephone.”
The Maxi driver says, “Brilliant! Have you got a fridge in there too? I’ve got a fridge in the back of my Maxi!”
The Rolls owner, looking annoyed, says, “Yes, I have a refrigerator.”
The Maxi driver says, “Great! Hey, do you have a telly in there as well? I’ve got a telly in the back of my Maxi, you know!”
The Rolls owner, very annoyed by now, says, “Of course I have a television. A Rolls-Royce is the finest luxury car in the world!”
The Maxi driver says, “It’s a lovely car! Have you got a bed in there, too? I’ve got a bed in the back of my Maxi!”
Upset that he doesn’t have a bed, the Rolls owner orders his chauffeur to take him straight to the dealership, where he promptly orders that a bed be installed in the back of the Rolls. The next morning, the chauffeur picks up the car, and the bed looks superb, complete with silk sheets and brass trim. It’s clearly a bed fit for a Rolls-Royce.
So the Rolls owner begins searching for the Maxi. After searching all day and half the night, he finally finds the Maxi parked, with all the windows fogged up on the inside.
The owner of the Rolls-Royce gets out of his magnificent vehicle and knocks on the window of the Maxi. No answer. He knocks and knocks, and eventually the owner of the Maxi sticks his head out, soaking wet. “I now have a bed in the back of my Rolls-Royce,” the Rolls owner says smugly.
The Maxi owner looks at him in disbelief and says, “You got me out of the shower for that?”