by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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So here is some food for thought, fresh off of one of the most expensive holidays we all celebrate…Valentine’s Day. I saw some interesting things, and am here to share some observations and of course inject my personal opinions whether you like it or not. :-)
First off, all of Social Media was flooded with pictures of happy couples doing happy things, pledging their love for one another, etc. I never really understood the need to broadcast my love for my wife to the rest of the world. We don’t play the comparison game. We don’t need validation or acknowledgement from anyone to make us feel better or more secure about our relationship. We, collectively, don’t give a shit about what the rest of the world thinks about us. We don’t live under the ILLUSION that the rest of the world does actually care what we do or don’t do. And just because you are someone in the midst of your fifteen minutes of fame doesn’t mean the rest of the world really cares either. Case in point: Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on January 26th, 2020. The world came to a screeching halt when this news broke. Its two weeks later, and almost all of us have already forgotten about it on a daily basis. My point is, if you think the world gives a crap about what you did for Valentine’s Day, or had for breakfast, you are kidding yourself.
Next point…according to this story, the average person spent $142 dollars on stuff for Valentine’s Day. I covertly surveyed my co-workers to see what everyone else was doing yesterday, and what they shared fell right in line with this. Didn’t matter if they were a $14/hr employee or the owner of the company, everyone was on par with this. Think about that…the fourteen dollar an hour employees were spending AS MUCH AS the owner of the company for gifts, dinner, etc. Why is that?
I’ll tell you why…Social Conditioning.
Our economy is built on constant expenditure of the money you actually have, and as much of the future money (through credit) that can be sucked out of your wallet. To reinforce that, you now have a pervasive use of Social Media to compare your life to everyone else’s. In the past, keeping up with the Joneses used to mean looking around at the people in your neighborhood and at the PTA meetings. Now, the entire world is broadcasting a highlight reel of their lives, trying to keep up with almost everyone else doing the same thing.
This is why people wait 90 minutes for a table at a popular restaurant, A. to be seen by everyone else at the restaurant, B. to get the pic for the ‘Gram posting, and C. to tell everyone about it. Our endless cycle of social validation is causing MUCH of the problems we face in society. How many people who blew about $150 put that on a credit card and didn’t think twice about it, at least until that next statement comes in the mail.
In full disclosure, I bought my wife a dozen tie-died roses for Valentine’s Day. There were really cool and unique looking, and she loved them. I ordered them in January, with a 40% off coupon, and had them delivered the day before V-Day because it was cheaper. She loved the discounts I got almost as much as the flowers. She’s like that, and so am I. Wanna know what we did for dinner? We went to Panda Express and got dinner to go, and ate at home. It was her choice, as she had a long week at work and never wants to go out and fight the crowds on Valentine’s Day. And she had a coupon…
No photos, no Insta posts about it….just us.
Now, I am not saying our way is right. Its our way, and that’s what matters to us. But, what I am preaching is the lose the obsession of following the herd, keeping up with everyone else, and spending money you don’t really have. We are working hard to be completely debt free, house and all, and blowing $150 on each other doesn’t facilitate that. That’s $300 less to throw at the debt pile this month. We aren’t moving to a bigger house, or buying new cars when we hit this goal, we are striving to set ourselves up for total freedom, and keeping up with the Joneses is counter-productive to hitting this goal.
Look, I have an Instagram account, a Twitter account, and an antiquated Facebook account that I rarely open anymore. I am not saying these things are all bad (nor am I saying they are good either!), but understand that you make the rules for your life. I view Social Media like I am driving by an accident on the freeway…I slow down and take a peek, but soon I am back up to full speed, focused on my lane and what lies ahead. There is nothing that says you need an Instagram account. But if you do choose to indulge, do it wisely.
Don’t play by their rules, play by your rules.
Get your own life…stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

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