We’re all too social media crazy these days. It’s becoming such a norm you have to announce you’re off social media or else everyone assumes you’re automatically on the radar. If I wasn’t a blogger, I wouldn’t be caught as addicted to my Twitter and my Pinterest as I am now, tee-hee. 😳
Face Value on Facebook
Everyone can be naïve sometimes but I should get first ribbon at the fair for my naïvety. My high school economics tutor once told me soy sauce was one of the ingredient in cupcakes and I totally believed him.
Equally stupid, for the longest time, I didn’t believe social media bragging existed.
In fact, I went to bat for that belief against one of my best friends.
One night my friend, Lolita, and I were waiting at a bus stop in San Francisco Chinatown. I turned to ask her if she saw so-and-so’s latest update on such and such (I can’t even remember what it was.)
My friend assured me, “of course I did but you know everyone on Facebook is just hyping their best right? That’s all that is, hype.”
I thought she was trying to make both of us feel better about our miserable, poverty-stricken lives.
I replied with a serene innocence, “no they’re not. It really did happen ’cause look at the photos!”
“So? The entire thing is to show off dude.”
“Yeah but it doesn’t change the fact that they still did IT*“
*It as in skiing on a mountain top, eating at a Las Vegas seafood buffet, getting hitched on the beach and so on.
“Trust me Lily, it’s not what it seems.”
“No, I don’t think so.”
–Lolita rolls her eyes at me–
This is about as accurate of a recollection as I have for that conversation that happened 6 years ago.
Still you can see I was very naïve.
Remember I was just another lower class kid, born and bred. Everyone in the free world seemed like they had it all figured out and I was at home playing Neopets on a dial-up modem. Facebook just reaffirm all of what I thought I was missing because of my personality and circumstances. From my last two years of high school to the first two years of college, I took all Facebook status updates for face value.
The photo proved to me that everyone else who had anything to show must have had lives filled with all that is rainbows and sparkles. You can see the uploads of after school rendezvous, a weekend spa trip to Tahoe, a stupid amount of selfies and a lotttt of food.
I said to myself “wow, I have nothing good to show for my life but look at all the amazing things happening to my Facebook friends*!”
*the word 'friends' will be used loosely in this post.
I should have realized sooner this was Facebook. I know now that news on Facebook is different from the standard news off the grapevine.
News from Facebook is like a selfie. The entire picture has more than a few things omitted and other things enhanced.
Finances on Facebook
The world wide web didn’t exist 200 years ago so an individual’s reach was much smaller. Today, there are multiple platforms dedicated to just showing off, until indefinitely! I mean there was keeping up with the Joneses but now there’s keeping up with the Joneses, Smiths, Chongs, Cabrillos, Lars and 400 more whoever else on your timeline stream. Great.
Ever imagine what someone alive 200 years ago would think of us now?
“…folly of God harlot, covereth those bare ankles!”
But Facebook bragging is mostly harmless right?
Nothing is harmless if there’s a reaction and/or action from it. That’s like one of the cause and effect principles of the Universe man.
I was inspired by this post by a friend who came public about her debt. She had her regrets about her closet, her vacations and even that pizza she posted onto Instagram.
I’ll share some other stories with you on what I’ve observed.
*All names have been altered.
Case Study One
I think everyone deserves redemption but this case just happens to be my to-go example of financial Facebook stupidity.
Sit down boys and girls, and I’ll tell you a sad tale:
Around this time 2 years ago, Janelle and her husband announced on Facebook they were at the Toyota dealership shopping for a new car. Janelle and her husband each already had cars but Janelle wanted an upgrade.
Within a few hours, they were signing the papers on a new SUV. The SUV at the time of the purchase cost around $25,000 base, without any frills or add-ons. Janelle and her husband put down a small down payment then they took the rest as an auto loan at an affordable* 5.25% interest rate over the span of 60 something months.
*the word 'afford' will be used loosely in this post.
All was fine, Janelle and her husband drove out of the dealership with their 3 young kids in the back seat of their nice car. The new car smell blindsided the adults as they drove their new SUV away from the dealership. Don’t forget, like all new cars, their SUV automatically dropped 20% of its value as it left the lot.1
Just a few days later, Janelle wrote a curt update about the size of the new car payment. I forgot the context but I remember thinking “dang girl, I didn’t know you could get buyer’s remorse that fast.”
Then a few months later she posted a longer update about the monthly car payment again. This time, comparing the car loan as a “growing cancer tumor.”
Gee, they seemed so happy about it before…
I didn’t know their finances and we were only friends by mutuality so I scrolled past her car updates with my finger.
Fast forward over a year later and she wrote out an massive wall of text on Facebook explaining in full her regret in purchasing that SUV. One thing she wrote stuck out to me:
“We got a car because we couldn’t get a mortgage.”
So…let me fill this in with some “logic” here.
Janelle and her husband went out and got the SUV on a down payment because they wanted to show off “the lifestyle” she wanted everyone to think they had. She had a competitive feud going on with another Facebook mom at the time I believe.
Janelle and her husband didn’t have enough for a house like she wanted. She explained they could afford the SUV though. So they brought the SUV as a consolation (she did use that exact word.) Now after a year of seeing a huge chuck of their monthly take home salary (roughly $500/month for the auto loan) go towards just the SUV every month made Janelle feel regretful.
Janelle was (and still is) enamoured with the wealth and comfort of the upper middle class. That’s why she didn’t trade down that car yet. She is a normal person. She is not after ostentatious wealth but more like a “comfortable Sunday brunch in Lululemon pants pushing a $500 stroller with custom engraving” lifestyle. I can’t fault her for that, it’s very common, I see it all the time. Lifestyle to me is a bit of a joke though…but I’m a person that likes to hermit in my brain so I digress.
She wrote that she fell for the trap of keeping up with appearances and trying to keep up with the Joneses of Facebook.
#1) If you can’t afford the down payment for a house that somehow means you should go out and make a down payment for a car?!
How in the world does that make sense?
#2) It’s not the financing behind the car that shocks me. A lot of Americans need cars thanks to limited public transport options and a car loan gets a car the lot faster than saving up. Janelle’s family is no different. But what’s totally stupid is that they didn’t really need a new car. They wanted to upgrade. Worst, they wanted the upgrade because a part of them wanted to show it off on social media.
Janelle’s wall of text mentioned some background drama between her and another Facebook mom.I believe what happened was Mrs. Rival (another schoolmate of ours) brought a new car and received something like 100+ likes on Facebook. Janelle then did the same and only got 40 likes on her new car announcement on Facebook.
Well! That explains why her car regret was so instantaneous after just a few days.
That’s the biggest kicker to me here.
Can’t we just accept that we’re a bunch of boring, poor people compare to the Kardasians? What in the world did the other Facebook mom do and who cares how many likes she had on her car vs yours?
There’s another four something years left on that expensive metal money sucker that Janelle didn’t need in the first place.
The span of Janelle and her husband’s $25,000 + 5.25% interest rate spur of the moment purchase has a total internet shelf life of 15 minutes before it’s forgotten.
She had like 40 likes on her new car announcement right? Two years ago Janelle and her family paid $25,000 for it on a 5.25% interest loan at the standard 60 month repayment. The car is worth $19,000 at best now and they knocked back less than $5,000 off the principle because of financial hardship.
For the life of their car loan Janelle and her family will be paying at least a total of $28,479 back. Almost $500 a month basically…for a depreciating liability.
She received 40 likes or so on her Facebook car status.
$28,479 ÷ 40 = $712
She paid $712 per Facebook ‘Like.’
Let that sink in.
She paid $712 per Facebook ‘Like’ to be given a flip.
Case Study Two
There was this girl I know that sort of looks like a squirrel and I think her name is Lily because she’s the face in the sidebar. She is a bragger too.
When Jared and I brought our first home, I was especially elated. During closing…like the entire month of it…I had trouble sleeping from the excitement.
It was all pride.
I’m the poor kid remember? Growing up in San Francisco? It would have been more realistic for me to dream about becoming a 6 ft supermodel (I’m 5 ft nothing) than a homeowner.
And here I am, the first of my peeps to buy a nice big house in a big city. I would be definitely be lying if I said I wanted a cosmetically pleasing house simply because of aesthetics. About 15% of me wanted a remodeled house so I could just show it off on everyone on social media.
The house I wanted needs professional photography and it had to be staged. Who knows what other house we would have ended up with if I wasn’t so vain. It’s embarrassing to be so petty about social media but yeah…I was 23 and I learned my lesson. Surviving social media is part of the coming of age brochure now for us millennials 👶
Public Service Announcement
Don’t try to look rich, no one actually cares.
Let me repeat…
No. One. Cares.
And definitely not as much as you think they do. People only care as a response to themselves so what you’re doing is irrelevant because the bottom line is up to them.
Never base the reason behind purchases on social media or someone else.
This just spells trouble. I firmly believe Facebook (and other social media outlets) changes our choice as consumers.
A Starbucks latte looks better in my hands if I got the bigger size – and the larger size latte would compliment the shade of my nails if I got them salon done instead of doing it sloppily myself.
See what I mean? It’s an expense snowball and not the debt crushing kind. Think of decision-making like a scale and you weigh the sides. How much should having bragging rights on Facebook weigh?
Comparisons made on social media is unfair to yourself and others. People care only as extension of themselves. Comparisons made on social media is unfair to you and anyone involved. For the most part everyone goes online to brag or vent and you’re getting maybe 10% of the reality they’re presenting.
Rarely do we get a full glimpse because after all, who wants to air out their pain when they could show off their joy instead?
Don’t take it so seriously.
You are too blessed to be stressed. When you stop caring about what others think of you the more free you will feel. If it’s hard, I would just uninstall the entire sha-bang or at least greatly reduce the time spent on the platform. I stopped using Facebook for a good few months now and I thought I would miss it after a week of swearing off but to my surprise, not at all!
Anyone else have any financial Facebook stupidity stories to share? I take all self admissions and confessions and tattle tales.