The other day my cable services died and it took beaucoup de hours to get everything back online (unplug, wait, re-plug, cry). The first service to be restored (ironically since I could care less) was the television. Since it was now Tuesday I suppose I was happy that I wouldn’t miss my Sunday night show. While testing the television service I flipped through many channels with satisfactory results (see disclaimer above) and uncharacteristically left the television on, in case the fix was only temporary. I went into my office to work on my Internet connection and could hear that Sesame Street was playing on the television. I thought I had left the room with HBO playing so I went back into the living room to be surprised that Sesame Street was now on HBO (it left PBS?).
I stood and watched while some woman explained to Elmo what “jealousy” was. Fair enough since Sesame Street is educational for the younger set, but I quickly realized that poor Elmo was being given the wrong definition of “jealousy.” The kind woman was explaining that “jealousy” is when you see that someone has something you want or is getting to do something you wish you could do and you want it for yourself.
That is a definition of the word “envy.” I remember many years ago giving this lesson:
Envy is when you want something someone else has; Jealousy is when you are concerned that someone will take what you have.
So if you are going to Aruba on vacation, I envy your good fortune; however, if I have an all-day sucker, then I am jealous that you might swipe my portable sugar-jolt. In a more adult situation (straight out of popular fiction): I am envious of your trophy wife and you are jealous that your trophy wife might run away to Aruba with me. Obviously Point-of-View is key to these definitions.
I apologize for this mundane English lesson … the old teacher in me was just incensed that a well-known educational program could be so stupid. Then again, it’s a common mistake.