Keeping up with the Joneses introduced a pop culture reference that accurately captures what our society has come to be. The underlying theme is that people don’t want to be perceived as “broke” and therefore live beyond their means. Ironically, that leads to debts and a perpetual state of being broke– the very thing the person is trying to escape.
Why do people do it?
The average person typically knows that keeping up with the Joneses as problematic consequences. However, the fear of being perceived as less than, according to social constructs, have them sacrificing their wellbeing and bank balance. There is an apparent disconnect that gets overlooked. We tell people to “be yourself” but media imaging continues to show us unless you have listed qualities, being yourself is not such a fantastic idea. It says that having expensive cars with convertible doors, a home with an enormous skylight, a trim body, and well-behaved children is the optimum for success.
The grass being presumably greener on the other side is what gets more people into taking up a façade. Social media has now introduced a joke that, if the grass is greener then it is likely the person has added a filter. Both online and in person, people typically want to show what’s working or prospering in their life, leaving out what’s broken and what they wish they could change.
Why you should give it up
With all factors constant, life dishes out the good and the bad. How many celebrities do we know of that filed for bankruptcy yet we envied their lifestyle? Very few people are truly wealthy. Being rich is not merely about a bank balance. It is what remains when you pay off your debt and everything else you own. Therefore, knowing that what you see is not what’s there helps quell the desire to compare, be depressed or make irrational decisions trying to appear accomplished.
Be your yardstick
The best way to stop the loop in your mind telling you to compete with others is to shift your focus internally. Make the best version of yourself a symbol of what success looks like. If your spending habits have you in a constant cycle of spending and borrowing, then, initially, the better version of yourself would be spending less and opening a savings account. Within a few months, when you’re able to afford a holiday and be debt free, you’ll be thanking yourself that you took the bold step to becoming a better you.