Keeping Up With The Joneses In The Digital Age 60 Comments
Photo: Financial Times photos
As the internet has evolved and we truly enter the digital age as a society, the biggest enemy of our personal finances has been quietly growing stronger and stronger. No it’s not inflation. It’s not government taxes. It’s something much less obvious. It’s those pesky Joneses!
It might seem innocent enough when you are on Facebook browsing through their vacation photos or reading about their great new house/car/boat/tv. Meanwhile it is pushing your savings to the edge of a dangerous precipice.
After all, you’ve worked very hard and you’re a good person. So why shouldn’t you deserve all that awesome stuff too?
Why The Joneses Are Stronger Than Ever
The problem is not that there are many more Joneses today or that they are wealthier than in the past. The real problem is how they have found more ways to infiltrate our lives.
Since we are more connected than ever, it is inevitable that those social networks include people who are wealthier or at least appear to be. Unless the Joneses in your circles are quite humble, they are bound to be mentioning things that are only attainable with a lot of money.
In the past, wealth classes were much more segregated. The rich lived in the expensive neighborhoods and exclusivity was a big part of many social gatherings. As a result, the less wealthy were somewhat ignorant of how much more rich people possessed and how they lived.
Sure people might have had a rich relative or boss, but without the rampant online boasting, modesty was a much more valued trait. Even if you were exposed to the excesses of the rich, it wasn’t likely something you were reminded of so frequently.
The other major factor is the media. The limited media platforms meant that the focus was on actual news and not so much what celebrities are doing, wearing, buying and so on. Limited media also meant less advertising of sought after luxuries.
Today all of that stuff is present on a daily basis.
It’s Not Just The Devil You Know
Speaking of celebrities, they are often the other Joneses that we are always reminded of. In their case though, their wealth and possessions are so extreme, that it is easier to overlook.
Random strangers on the street, in the mall or in a club can all create a degree of jealousy in people. Most of us are just naturally envious of others. The grass always seems greener on the other side.
Even fellow bloggers might be proud to tell people about a large amount of savings, a high salary, a nice new car or other riches.
So it’s not just people within your circle that can get you wanting more.
The Joneses Are Really The Minority
Remember that if you’re reading this post you are likely above average wealth. You are probably on your own computer with high speed internet. You are much better off than a high percentage of the world’s population. No matter what your financial situation, there are bound to be lots of people who are both richer and poorer than you.
The ones in a more dire situation are just more quiet about their finances. So it just seems like there are more people richer than you.
Of course, the Joneses shouldn’t really be your enemies. There are plenty of benefits to networking with those that are wealthier and you don’t want to neglect current acquaintances just because they are doing well. You just have to establish a rational view of the situation. You need to accept that some people will have more than you. Also you have to learn to be content with what you do have.
The true enemy for your financial future is really your own envy. The better you can deal with that envy, the better your finances will be.
Just don’t get too comfortable with your finances though. You still want to protect yourself with quality insurance coverage from a reputable company like this site.
Do you let the Joneses affect your financial decisions? Or are you able to focus primarily on your own finances?