We used to keep up with the Joneses. Oh, we said no. But when we saw a new Mustang in our neighbor’s driveway, we started thinking maybe we could buy one too. Or our friends were talking about their trip to Europe, and we suddenly wondered if we owed it to ourselves to make the trip. After all, it wasn’t just a vacation, it was a learning experience!
But no one keeps up with the Joneses anymore. Now there are Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and all other social networks. So today people are keeping up with the Kardashians.
The result is exactly the same, or worse. We get into debt, we don’t appreciate our purchases, we feel guilty. . . we feel worse for the experience. Or, if we can’t afford to do what they are doing, we get jealous or annoyed.
Go. Be honest. Have you ever seen a friend’s post on Facebook or Instagram and they are having a drink on a tropical beach with a luxury hotel in the background? And you thought: Wow, if she can spend a week in Belize, why can’t I?
If that’s not true, why do we scroll through social media and see so many of our vacationing friends sunbathing on the beach or sipping exotic cocktails? Why do we see so many people riding on the lake in their new boat? Or there’s a picture of your new deck and backyard. Or they go to a concert, attend a soccer game, ride their new electric bike.
It even has a name: revenge tourism, or revenge spending. The term captures the notion that Covid deprived us for a year or two, so damn, let’s make up for lost time right now, no matter the cost, no matter how you spread our credit card bill or use up our IRA account. Who knows what crisis lies beyond the next bend? We better grab our experience now while we can. As the saying goes, you only live once. . . or YOLO.
Everything has become more expensive. But we are willing to do it anyway. And the older ones have another excuse. We are not getting any younger. Maybe we won’t be healthy enough to travel in a few years. So we better do it, and we do it now!
As for me, I was driving through the city the other day and noticed that all the restaurants were full, people were sitting at the outdoor tables under the umbrellas. People were waiting for tables, spilling onto the sidewalk. They all seemed to be having a lot of fun. I wanted to go out to dinner too!
So maybe we’re not keeping up with the Joneses, or even the Kardashians. We keep up with our friends and acquaintances and people we barely know.
Meanwhile, my brother-in-law has just posted a photo of himself in Paris on Facebook. A friend posted a photo of her new patio furniture on Instagram. Are they posting because they want you to share your enjoyment of that experience? . . or because they want me to impress? As much as I try to resist it, I feel the fear of missing out, or FOMO. It seems to me that I am sitting at home in front of my computer while they are active and alive and enjoying life to the fullest.
Social networks provide us with a lot of free entertainment. But I wonder if in the end it is costing us a lot.
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