What is social media for if not for bragging? Many would argue that they’re simply sharing their life, the very thing that social media platforms purport is their purpose – sharing lives. And while for some, that may be true, sharing life events may be what they’re doing on there. That’s fine. But for the younger generations who grew up on social media, they’re not sharing their lives with us so much as at us. I’ve touched on this subject before, but it bears repeating. Social media has made us a nation of braggarts.
Think about what you see shared on a platform like Instagram or Facebook. Yes, you get your fair share of political posts and memes, and who doesn’t love a meme, but you tend to get a great deal of “look at me.” It’s a panoply of vacations, outfits, purchases, new looks, meals, drinks, and a host of other things that only money can buy. New shoes? Show them off. Ordered a fancy meal? Show it off. Went on a trip? Show it off.
First, let me attempt to distinguish this behavior from merely sharing one’s life with others. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but what I’m describing goes far beyond that. Let me put it to you this way: were social media to cease to exist, would you text your friends, family, and mild acquaintances pictures of every expensive meal you ate, or every pricy item you purchased? I imagine you wouldn’t, and you shouldn’t, it’s a gross behavior. But social media, for whatever reason, has lifted the braggadocio flood gates – and many feel that they need to share only the most enviable parts of their lives.
Bragging isn’t a virtue, it’s a fault – always. Unwanted sharing of accomplishments, possessions, and privilege aren’t anything commendable. No one owes you thanks for sharing the things that make you entirely unrelatable. It just doesn’t work that way. The grand grift that Facebook and Instagram have sold us is that we’re all connected and the same. Yes, we’re all people, but it’s hard to feel that human connection when the platforms are used almost exclusively to brag about material things.
Ultimately, while it’s enjoyable to look at nice things, it leaves us wanting. We want for the trips that others seem to go on so frequently. We want for the fancy meals and drinks we see posted so flippantly. We want for the toys, gadgets, cars, and other purchases made. We want for the lifestyle that seems to enable so many people to spend endlessly. I’m not saying that having money and spending it is bad, it certainly isn’t. But what I do see as a negative is that those purchases and privileges are shared as though they’re something we all need, want, and deserve to see. We don’t need to see anyone’s extravagance, especially when it ultimately serves to make us feel bad about what we lack.
It’s bad manners to show off what others don’t have, plain and simple. It serves only to placate one’s delicate ego, effectively covering up any of the hideous personality flaws which lead a person to brag in the first place about what they have and others don’t. Especially during a time where everyone is struggling to some extent, showing off what you have has never been less important. To co-opt the supposed purpose of social media platforms by using them to share what you have is self-delusion at its finest. If you really believe that sharing pictures off your purchases, trips, and extravagance is sharing your “life,” I pity you. You’re missing the real stuff of human connection. You’re empty, you’re hollow – but at least you’ve got nice stuff, so that makes up for it. Right?