As human beings, we cannot live alone. We need constant contact with our peers, friends, and family. In a perfect world, this constant contact or networking with people should elevate our overall well-being. I know that dinners with family and night outs with friends bring me constant delight and leave me feeling elated for the rest of the week. Meeting with work friends keeps me updated on office matters and lawyer-related news.
Then came the age of the internet and face time with the people in our lives became less and less. I yearn for the times when my birthdays bring me personal greetings from people in the form of a text message, calls, letters, birthday cards (hello Hallmark cards!) and even long-distance calls. I recall birthday surprises when friends personally appear and bring cake and sing happy birthday.
Things are not always what they appear to be on social media.
Now, most kinds of greetings are made through social networks, prompting a lot of people to go online. Once online, you are subjected to other people’s display of their (inflated) lifestyle. I find it distasteful how people post photos of their new clothes (WITH THE PRICE TAG ON FULL DISPLAY? Ugh) and similar pricey things with the tag #blessed as an ostensible show of their false humility. Luckily for me, I take such posts with a grain of salt because I am fully aware that said price tag costs more than half of such person’s monthly take home pay and said person just borrowed money to tide her through the month.
However, a constant barrage of such false display of “wealth” could not be healthy for people who may not be aware or do not have an inkling of how much other people make. As such, these people may be mislead and may feel the pressure to keep up, leading to the ruin of their financial health. Thus, I am not enamored at all by social networks. Early on I recognized that social networks encourage a lot of humble bragging and false facades for pretentious people.
I empathized with a friend who had confessed to me that she suffered depression for a year for always being on facebook. She had been un- and under-employed for three years and the sight of her peers climbing up the corporate and social ladder on facebook worsened her depression, causing her to shut down entirely.* I learned to use social networks sparingly. Now there is a growing trend for honesty even in social networks and the recognition that the use of social networks sets you back from your goal of financial independence.
As the Millionaire Next Door puts it, most people become millionaires by avoiding the whole “keeping up with the Joneses” trap. In today’s modern times, this trap comes in the form of facebook, instagram and twitter. Let us not underestimate the power of social indifference as a tool for us to maintain our financial health.
* Fortunately my friend had the good sense to get off facebook. She is now much healthier both emotionally and financially.
To your good financial health!
20 something lawyer