Quarantine envy is the feeling of jealousy people get when seeing others thrive in the pandemic. It’s very common nowadays.
The coronavirus has made us reflect on a ton of things. It’s made us miss our old way of life, the chance to go to movie theaters and concerts, our friends and the strangers at the bar. It’s also made us realize how fortunate some are, those who are able to leave cluttered cities in to find solace in suburbs, or celebrities who post “supportive” videos with their mansions and private pools as backgrounds. Quarantine envy is a new term, and it’s pervasive.
Envy is a common emotion, one with a negative connotation to it, simply reduced to jealousy and craving of what others have. We’re all acquainted with it, experiencing when we’re single and a friend finds a successful and loving relationship or when a coworker gets a job position you’d been after. Quarantine envy is about mansions and money, the comfort that millionaires have when times are stressful and the majority of people are hunkering down in their apartments with roommates, or are staying over with their families.
“Social media magnifies and creates instant, destructive envy,” says professor of economics and behavioral science Andrew Oswald to the New York Times. “There’s a globalization of envy and in the longer run, we have to regulate it.”
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While it seems like this envy for the rich exploded with quarantine, it’s been building up for quite some time now. Now that things are so dire and that the disparity is so pronounced, there’s enough envy to fuel hundreds of online articles. Essential workers envy those who work from home, those who work from home envy those who work from comfier homes. Those who are single envy those who are in relationships and those who are in relationships envy those who have some time for themselves.
“It’s easier to shrug off others’ good fortune when your life is OK. It’s been a terrible time for many people and the last thing they want to see is a millionaire’s house with a giant lawn,” says Dr. Oswald.
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Even though envy is a common and unpleasant experience, one that every person feels to some degree, there is some usefulness to it. Some research has shown that envy is helpful in pushing people to look for better options for themselves, becoming a motivator. While this is tough when in a global pandemic, you can always strive for short term goals that will make you feel less alone and better. Tend to your needs and put your phone down. Watch a movie or reading a book instead. Plan a social distanced gathering with friends and family. Invest time on your personal relationships and hobbies.
While these fixes might not be able to completely patch the wound of seeing that one person in your timeline who’s thriving in the pandemic, they will make you feel better and remind you of all the good stuff that you have going on in your life.