Are you keeping up with the Joneses? Wait, what? Who are the Joneses? Well, keeping up with the Joneses is an English idiomatic expression which means comparing oneself to others. It is trying to maintain the same lifestyle or having the same material possessions to that of one’s neighbors or peers. For example, your neighbor buys a new car. In order to keep up with them, you will buy a new car also regardless of whether you need it or not. It also does not put into consideration whether you can afford it or not. Simply put, it is a feeling of not falling behind other people in terms of material possessions. That’s keeping up with the Joneses.
With the onset of technology, keeping up with the Joneses has taken a new form. Now known as Fear of Missing Out, the feeling or insecurity has been magnified. We see people traveling, going places, eating delicious foods at fancy restaurants and buying the latest trends. It is human nature to not want to be left behind.
With social media, you get a constant view of the best parts of other people’s lives. You see the meals at fancy restaurants, the designer clothes, and the luxurious vacations. And if you follow any celebrities or influencers, you’ll see those types of posts all the time. It’s natural to feel a bit jealous and to want the same for yourself.The Motley Fool
Why is it Bad?
We live in a highly competitive world. Most of the time, competitions are healthy because it propels us to develop and improve ourselves. However, in this fast-paced capitalist world, it is hard to keep up with everyone else. And besides, it is never a good idea to compare yourself with others. For one, it takes your focus off your goals. Second, in this vast world, learn to accept the fact that there will always be somebody who is more wealthy and successful than you.
The material possessions that others own are all part of their persona. What you are seeing is just the tip of the iceberg. You don’t know the whole story behind it. For all you know, the Joneses are in a track load of debt. It is not something that you want to get yourself into. And even if they can afford it, it does not mean that you can too. Every household has different management strategies. Your net worth is not the same as that of your neighbors.
In psychology, this phenomenon is part of social signaling. Deep inside you have an inferiority complex or is quite insecure. Having a new car, branded clothes or latest cellphones all send “signals” to others that you are special. It is a way of getting an extra boost of self-worth from the material possessions that you own.
What’s ironic is that the truly wealthy do not act like that at all. Instead, they use what is called the counter signaling. Counter signaling means showing off by not showing off. Based on the analysis done by Dr. Tomas Stanley and Dr. William Danko of 292 millionaires, they found out that millionaires act quite the opposite. This was published in their book The Millionaire Next Door. Actual millionaires do not necessarily signal their success to others. In fact, they keep it low key. True, they buy expensive stuff but only because of their quality and not to show off. The most luxurious items in the world do not have big logos or emblems in their designs.
So, the next time you see your neighbor bragging or walking with their branded ensemble with large monogram logos, think again.
All of us have our own journey in life. We will never be happy if we will forever be comparing ourselves to others. The key to happiness is to love yourself first. Know your self-worth. You are special. There is a genius within you. All you need to do is to believe in yourself. No amount of wealth, fame and fortune can contribute to your self-worth for it comes from within.