- The Zeus Network
- Showing off your wealth and expensive clothes and cars is known as “flexing.”
- According to research, it doesn’t help you make friends.
- Everyone likes to be compared favourably to others.
- But we often forget everyone is doing the same thing.
- Nobody likes being overshadowed, and bragging about your money is a quickfire way to do this.
Having wealth and fame often goes hand-in-hand with showing it off. On social media and YouTube, this is commonly referred to as “flexing.”
Artists have flexed in their lyrics and music videos for a long time, talking about how much money they make, or how many cars they have. But according to research, this bragging doesn’t help you make friends.
A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that 66% of people tend to choose a luxury car over a basic one, but when it comes to attracting new people, most people also would rather be friends with the person in the cheaper vehicle.
“Thus, people think that status symbols such as driving the luxury car will increase friendship interest, but such status symbols actually make would-be friends less interested in friendship,” said one of the researchers, Stephen Garcia, in a blog post for Psychology Today.
The effect was also the same with watches. One group of participants in the experiment thought wearing an expensive Tag Heuer would help them make friends more than a generic watch, but those in the role of the potential friend said they would prefer to meet the person with the less expensive watch.
According to Garcia, psychologists call this effect a difference in perspective in social comparison.
“When we are deciding what to wear, we are in ‘presenting roles’ where want to put our best foot forward, so to speak,” he wrote. In other words, we want to look better than others.
“However, we do not take the perspective of the would-be friends. They too would also like to look good and do not want to be out-shined by others.”
So while we compare ourselves to others, and tend to want to be better than them, we should remember that everyone else does the same. Nobody wants to be overshadowed, and “flexing” about your wealth or expensive things is likely to do that.
D’Marge pointed out Floyd Mayweather’s latest Instagram posts, where he shows off his private jet and watches, as prime examples of flexing.
People in the comments said things like “Seems lonely at the top,” and “Materialism is to hide insecurities, I feel for this man.”
Preteen Instagram star Lil Tay also burst onto the scene last year, filming videos for the social media platform featuring mansions and supercars and calling herself the “world’s youngest flexer.”
While they arguably may not be trying to make friends, social media stars and influencers don’t tend to do well in terms of popularity with this sort of behaviour, if the YouTube dislikes and negative comments are anything to go by.
“While status symbols – a luxury car, a fancy purse, designer logos, and more – are associated with privileges, signaling status when trying to make new friends can backfire,” Garcia said.
“So, perhaps the next time you go to a social mixer in the hopes of making new friends, you may want to be mindful that some of the status symbols that you wear, or associate yourself with, might actually repel the very people you seek to befriend.”