Social media is a strange beast. It is full of pictures of family and friends sat in nice cars with sunglasses on or photos of a cocktail, their gnarled feet and a stretch of empty sand. It can be a vacuous place for empty ‘hashtags’ and even emptier quotes about living life to the full or having no regrets.
It seems to actively encourage mindless consumption and helps to push the apparent responsibility for things not going the way we want to the universe in general. Not to mention it can be a massive time-suck that adds very little value.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for one day, we as a group of financially responsible individuals actually said what we were thinking.
What people tend to say: That’s amazing news, you so deserve it!
What people should say: You bellend. You don’t have to take the maximum mortgage the bank will offer you, just because you can. You’re going to be tied into working for far more years than you need, just to pay for additional space that you won’t even use. Enjoy your hour long commute each way.
What we tend to say: You work so hard and you’re an amazing person, why not treat yourself. You’ll have to take me for a spin. ROFL.
What we should say: Well done for using a line of credit to make an expensive item even more expensive. I personally congratulate you for suffering heavily from the effects of depreciation, buying a car with more torque than you will ever need and choosing a model that has a top speed you’ll never even reach. Please don’t forget to update me when you are sitting in traffic in your £35k armchair.
What we tend to say: OMG. I’m well Jel!! Enjoy the rest and the sunshine. It’s raining and 12 degrees at the moment here, you lucky thing.
What we should say: Christ on a bike, if you like the sun so much, move somewhere sunny. It’s not difficult. California, Florida, the Middle East, Australia, Spain or Portugal maybe. Do you hate your job that much, that you need to sit on some sand for a week to recover? With a little bit of research you could spend 3 months exploring the Far East on the same amount of money you just spent on a week in a resort getting served drinks like some inbred Oligarch. #Gimpoid
What we tend to say: Oh no! That’s so unfair! Why do they always pick on the little people!? All they care about it profits and keeping the rich rich. You should sue them.
What we should say: What, you don’t even have a month or two of savings in cash to help with situations like this? What in the holy hell are you doing flying round the world for holidays and buying houses and cars? Hate to say it to you, but the house and the car aren’t yours. They are the banks, at least until you’ve paid off the loans. Sadly, they didn’t pick on you. You picked on yourself by choosing to take out the loans.
Facebook, or any social media platform, provides us with an instant feedback loop. Which so many people seem to use to promote the selected best parts of their life or the bits that they feel are unfair.
So the mindless consumer can get an instant group pat on the back for what is, in reality, a stupid decision, like buying a new car or a house that is too large and will take decades to pay off.
And they can get confirmation from the ether that life really has treated them unfairly, because lets be honest, who is publicly going to say that it’s partially their own fault and that with a few small tweaks the outcome would be completely different.
If poor old Mr Z was exclaim on Facebook about his savings rate or growing NetWorth it would probably get one solitary ‘like’ from his mother whilst the rest of his Facebook friends remarked what a tight bastard he was behind his back. Saving and investing for our future is a far more responsible thing to be celebrating than buying shit. Culturally the subject is taboo, personal finance, NetWorth and Savings Rates are rarely mentioned in the public domain.
This all compounds to make mindless consumption appear to be the normal path to follow, it’s all too easy to march to the tune of the status quo, buy shiny new things and complain how your generation is being squeezed. Positive feedback is much louder on this path, even if it is wrong.
The saver doesn’t receive public affirmations of approval, only quiet ones from partners or very close friends and family. When the markets head south they don’t complain loudly, they steeple their hands under their chin and figure out how they are going to take advantage of this opportunity. When their investments breach the next milestone there is no thinly disguised social media announcement seeking attention, rather a small air punch, a CTRL+S to save LegendaryNetWorth.xls and a Heel Click of Celebration on the way to the kitchen to cook dinner (Chicken Bhuna, if you’re asking).
I told a good friend recently that I had been saving over 50% of my income for a couple of years now, with the intention of taking some time off work in the future, perhaps even indefinitely. He regarded me quietly for a few moments and then nodded sagely, the quiet nod of approval far louder in it’s sincerity than ten thousand Facebook likes. We then discussed my plan of achieving this goal, to which he seemed genuinely interested and accepting.
Rest assured, in ten or so years time when my savings have grown to the point of work becoming optional I won’t be looking to Facebook, or whatever is around then, for approval. (Ok, maybe I’ll post something like “Time to retire at 44. #YOLO” and then disappear into the ether again). I’m not against social media, it needs to develop towards something more useful to it’s users than it’s current form than it’s current preying on our insecurities form. Sharing useful/insightful information or organising events.
In a time where we are so interconnected it can be easy to forget there’s more going on than what people shout about on your social media feeds. There’s plenty of us actively saving towards Financial Independence, but we are a quiet bunch, and certainly not shouting about it (other than on blogs perhaps 😉 ).
It requires an active step to remove yourself from the negative feedback loop that is social media in it’s current form, to join the quieter world of Financial Independence. Step on in, the water is lovely.
Spend Less, Save More & Escape the Horde.