Showing off wealth on social media? Get ready for the backlash


Showing off your wealth on social media can be a problem.

On social media, if you’ve been posting about that new car you just bought — or maybe a yacht — flexing the money can be a difficult step. While it may seem that the only idea behind an expensive bottle of champagne or a photo of an exotic vacation may be a desire to show off good fortune, this is not always the case.

It turns out why people like to sign up for money online, how it stands out to others, and what the consequences can be of posting from a private jet, especially if it’s not yours.

“Before social media, we had a general understanding that the rich have more,” said Jasmine Teer, vice president of strategy for Small Girls PR. “With social media, we can access a 24-hour rotating display of materialism and inequality depending on what we decide to consume and who we choose to follow.”

Creating this type of imagery, which is often associated with a world where many hardly have enough – especially during pandemics – can trigger a wave of backlash and negativity. It’s not hard to see why the outrage is there. according to data from urban instituteBetween 1963 and 2016, households in the bottom 10th percent of wealth had, on average, $1,000 in debt from nothing. In contrast, households in the top 1% saw their fortunes increase seven-fold.

On a regular basis, celebrities find themselves in trouble for being deaf to the differences between their lives and those of average people. In April 2020, Ellen DeGeneres complained about being in quarantine at her mansion like being in jail. In February, Chrissy Teigen got a little too casual while telling a story about accidentally ordering $13,000 bottle of wine.

Whether these were intentional flakes or not is not a matter. So why does someone take to social media to show off?

Sometimes it’s just a matter of some self-awareness and knowing who you’re talking to. Arrow gave the example of Boss. It’s probably fair to assume that someone in a leadership position is making more money. It’s not bad per se, but the guy showing a lavish lifestyle while laying off through his company is another story.

“Perceptions of opportunity and fairness are likely to play a big role in people’s response,” Teer said.

Meanwhile, it turns out that it’s hard to predict how people will react to what you post. A 2018 study published in Sage Journals found that even though about 66% of participants thought it was a sign of wealth or status (see my new BMW!) more attractive to potential friends, the reverse was actually true. Those potential friends showed less social interest in making friends with a luxury car, a more neutral car like a Honda.

reading signs

The idea that people are posting themselves in hopes of looking better is not surprising. On social media, people often present an idealized version of themselves according to what society wants, said Erica Bailey, a social scientist and fourth-year doctoral candidate at Columbia Business School. It doesn’t always mean money, but sometimes it does.

People can only get themselves into trouble in their heads, however, when they don’t match their authentic selves when the ideal version of themselves is plastered all over Instagram.

“Those two pressures can really pull against each other,” Bailey said.

For a study co-authored by Bailey and Sandra Mattes, associate professors of business at Columbia Business School, researchers collected data from more than 10,000 Facebook users and found those who viewed their profiles as more authentic representations of themselves. rated, they also reported high levels of self-satisfaction.

“If we know there’s a potential reaction to pretending in your social network … and it doesn’t do much for your own identity, and it doesn’t make you feel like, ‘I want to look like this,’ So there’s essentially no good reason to do so,” Matz said.

$300 in $100 bills

Showing off money can affect how people feel about themselves.

It also means, perhaps, that if you’re rich, and you get satisfaction from telling people, and you don’t care when you post about your designer lifestyle, everything might be fine for you. is.

Matz also talked about how what you indicate can actually unintentionally indicate your position. Rich people like things that are incidentally expensive. People who are low-income may deliberately like things that serve as a badge for what they have.

And while posting a photo of an expensive item may seem relatively superficial, Bailey and Matz talk about how some of this behavior is tied to wild extremes of wealth inequality, especially in America. Average S&P 500 Company CEO-to-Worker Salary Ratio According to the AFL-CIO, 2019 was 264-to-1.

Bailey said, “It becomes really important for people to indicate where they are. They want to signal that ‘really, I’m here,’ even if they’re not.”

all a charioteer

Not everyone who flexes really has money, and not everyone with money flexes.

Luke Thompson is a partner in the UK based Transmission Private, a reputation management firm that works with people with extremely high net worth. These are not people with some extra cushion in the bank, they are worth north of £100 million.

“They want their privacy to be respected, and they don’t want to be publicized or promote themselves,” Thompson said. “They are usually very private individuals who want to stay out of the media spotlight, rather than a celebrity who usually wants to court the media.”

The firm has recommendations on how to act on social media without raising an eyebrow, and it mostly has to do with being as intelligent as possible. Lock your account, make sure you know who’s following you, make sure everyone in your family agrees on what can and can’t be shared on social media Whether you’re liking or retweeting, take advantage of every privacy setting you can.

Getty Images-85642743

Not everyone who has wealth flexes it, and not everyone who flexes really has it.

One of the reasons for these measures, Thompson said, has to do with survey data collected in early 2019, which found that 25% of respondents felt the pretense of wealth would be a drag on their idea of ​​”successful, wealthy.” Personal.”

For some such high-profile individuals, the old adage “any publicity is good publicity” may not necessarily be true. The firm warns that a negative story could have harmful effects in the future, perhaps even tarnishing future relationships or partnerships with investors, politicians or anyone else.

Thompson said the one exception to the no-shows rule appears to be when the money is being put toward a charitable cause.

The idea that money and good deeds can get people’s attention deserves attention, thinks Arrow. The past one year has shaken people’s priorities, be it because of the pandemic or the outcry over social injustice.

“A few years ago, the most aspirational material you might encounter in a given day was a friend’s adventure trip through Japan,” Teer said. “Today, that could be material how a celebrity, a perfect stranger, or a brand responded to a community facing systemic injustice. In the perception of the pandemic, the display of care has become a new display of wealth.”

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