Tuesday, February 16, 2016

108. Conspicuous Consumption in Social Media

Purely theory and nothing personal folks: social media has become the platform for displaying conspicuous consumption. When we post our expensive meals on instagram, or our recent trip to Disneyland in our Facebook timeline, or our new gadget conquests, aren't we doing it to elicit envy? Perhaps, we are genuinely happy and grateful about our blessings, but shouldn't we be sensitive about how others might think? Thorstein Veblen observed that in an American neighborhood in the 1920s people buy stuff they don't need to make others envious of their social status, and I'd like to believe FB, Instagram, and Twitter, are virtual neighborhoods of the 21st Century. The advent of digital photography and smartphone apps that make it easy to display our simple pleasures, which to others, might be more complex and expensive, have made us insensitive about how others might feel seeing us with our trophies as we climb social brackets. But it pays to be cautious about these things, lest things get out of hand. We might not be intending it, but with each upload of those expensive stuff, like Bryan Poe-Llamansarez's Marty Macfly Nikes, we are falling into the world that Thorstein Veblen observed. Fine, if you're not prepared to agree, but at least be wary of the tax lady, Kim Henares. 

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