Thankfulness, stress, and decadence!

Phillip Whiteman

There is no shortage of opportunities to stress out during the holiday season, and Thanksgiving kicks off an expectation of decadence and overweening ambition for elegance that often describes the season. There is also what many experts have dubbed “The Age of Envy” with the advent of social media. There’s career envy, kitchen envy, children envy, food envy, fitness envy, holiday decor envy. You name it, there’s an envy for it. I’m no different than anyone reading this column. I have caught myself on more than one occasion falling prey to friend envy. Not even that, it was what they were portraying their life to be on social media. Have you ever looked up old classmates on Facebook? You know, the ones you disliked or even hated out of envy because their life seemed much better than yours? And, to amplify your self-wallowing misery, you discover that, according to their photos, they still seemly have a much more glamorous life. Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew says she is seeing more and more envy in her consulting room, from people who “can’t achieve the lifestyle they want but which they see others have”. Our use of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, she says, amplifies this deeply disturbing psychological discord. “I think what social media has done is make everyone accessible for comparison,” she explains. “In the past, people might have just envied their neighbors, but now we can compare ourselves with everyone across the world.” Clinical psychologist Rachel Andrew went on to say that no age group or social class is immune from envy, from businesswomen and men to fellow family members. The reason I bring this up is all of this envy is especially pernicious during the holiday season, as it is added alongside generally colder and more dreary weather. Many are barely making it by just trying to pay their heating bill in the winter months, then add the pressure of preparing a feast, fit for a king, and then Christmas gift a few weeks later. In researching this topic, I came across a fair amount of uniformity with psychologist recommendations. They all agree that most social media usage is passive and, interestingly, it’s passive use that is more harmful than active use. The solution most of them recommended was to change the way we habitually use social media. They also encourage users to recognize that you can survive with those items who may be envious of and that we can survive without them. Not having things does not make you less worthy or less of a person. I want to encourage all of you still reading this to attempt to take a step back and reflect on what truly matters in your life. Take advantage of those positive moments and influences you may have.

Newton County Community Coalition Vision: A safe and healthy, drug and alcohol-free, youth community across all of Newton County.

Newton County Community Coalition Mission: We strive to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and other risky behaviors among youth through collaboration, education, empowerment, early-intervention, and community transformation efforts throughout Newton County. 

Are you interested in making a difference in Newton County? Come join the Newton County Community Coalition, where we are discussing how the Coalition provides substance abuse prevention strategies with current target areas of youth alcohol use, marijuana use, prescription drug abuse, and tobacco issues. 

­----Phillip Whiteman is the DFC Coordinator/Program Director for the Newton County Community Coalition (Coalition). He writes a biweekly column for The Neosho Daily News.

To get in touch with someone at the Coalition, please contact me or one of our Board members at Board President: John Ball, or Board Vice President: Jeff Higgins,

Check out our Facebook page@

The Coalition meets from noon-1 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The meeting location is the Talkington Building, 209 N. Valley Street, Neosho.

A Drug-Free Communities Coalition is supported by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)