Keeping Up with Social Media Millionaires

rich

In my Facebook circle, there were some serious allegations that a married couple who have portrayed themselves as being rich and successful may actually be faking the funk. Their claims were outlandish: customized helicopters, several cars worth 6 figures each, multi-million dollar deals, being worth 9 figures, John Legend as wedding singer in an upcoming $300k+ wedding.

If you watch TV shows like “Lives of the Super Rich” or even observe the average celebrity on TV, these claims of living the high life don’t seem too extraordinary. However, the people in question were a young black couple, both under the age of 30. The husband who was allegedly the source of the wealth, somehow managed to break into the commodities business 10 years ago at the age of 19. Yet, no one had heard of him. And I mean no one. Not my journalist friend who worked for a well-respected news publication, not people who actually work in the commodities market on Wall Street. Not. A. Soul. Young black multi-millionaire on the verge of being a billionaire, breaks into the competitive commodities business fresh out of high school with no college degree and he is never spotlighted. If this story is not adding up to you, you’re not alone. It was the outlandish nature of these claims that raised suspicion and prompted some people to contact acquaintances from their past to verify the claims. It turned out, they weren’t true. There are no millions, no private jets, no Bentleys. Hell, word on the street is there’s not even food in the fridge unless hard liquor is now categorized as food group. They are not home because they are retired millionaires. According to someone who knows them well, they are home because they are both unemployed. Apparently, even the credit card scams have not been enough to prevent multiple evictions.

You’re probably wondering why I’m discussing social media gossip on a blog that primarily deals with personal finances. However, in a way, this particular strain of “gossip” is related to personal finance. I wanted to show that we sometimes fall into the trap of believing and subsequently envying the carefully crafted lives and lies of internet posers. Evidently because we don’t know they are lies. We allow them to tap into our most primal instincts: our competitive nature. There were lots of pictures of Rolex watches and fancy cars. Now that we know that most of the pictures were lifted from Instagram, some were taken in the jewelry store and others were of rented or test-driven cars, I can’t help but wonder: How many of their Facebook “friends” ran up a credit card trying to buy a nice watch? How many people are going to blow their tax refund checks on an expensive purse that she claimed she owned because they wanted to be like her?

Although I was briefly in that circle of virtual friends who considered her husband’s (fake) success story of  an average black man to be “life goals”, I personally did not fall into the trap of keeping up with the Internet Great Value Kardashians. I may have believed (most of) their claims, but it is not in my nature to compete with other people’s wallets. I did what I was raised to do which was clap for their (fake) success but worry about my own coin purse. I remained focus on my goals of aggressively paying down my debts. However, not everyone has that resolve. My ability to resist any temptation is firmly rooted in the many years I’ve spent learning the necessary discipline that taught me to value freedom over image, peace of mind over glitz and long term goals over material things.

If you’ve ever fallen for a fake internet success story, you are not alone. We’ve all been there. But keep your eyes on your own finances. You never know which of those luxury cars are being taken for a test drive, which 5 carat “diamonds” are actually lab created white sapphires or which mental illness is fueling outlandish claims of financial success because someone confused their monopoly money for real cash after they stopped taking their medication.

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