Flaunting your Feathers

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Words: Evie Hylands (she/her)

The new and increasingly flashy world of social media is nothing out of the blue. With the rise of hustle culture, the need to “flex” one’s new myriad of desirable belongings has emerged. Between Kylie Jenner and her countless cars, to Olivia Neil suddenly driving to her London pimped out pad in her sparkling new BMW, it’s inescapable. Given the recession in the UK, with the cost-of-living at an all-time high and people facing decisions between eating and putting their heating on, this culture is becoming increasingly toxic and tone deaf, creating unrealistic expectations for present and future generations. 

The cost-of-living crisis and the current economic climate have without a doubt been a great detriment to the people of the UK. With the current recession, people have been forced to budget, cut out excursions and often take on extra work just to make ends meet. New and additional stresses only exacerbate the already present issue of the attainment gap, which now is becoming increasingly pronounced in the world of hustle culture. Not only is it damaging for our aspirations, but promotes an unattainable lifestyle in this time of turbulent economic uncertainty. Along with that, we live in a world where the detrimental effects of consumer culture are becoming increasingly evident: take forest fires and the over-cultivation of land to satisfy the incessant need for everything instantly. We have a finite number of natural resources, one that cannot sustain and satisfy the rampant consumerist mentality that seems to dominate the media. Normalising the overconsumption of goods only creates dangerous standards for younger generations, who have grown up accessing and consuming the newly flashy and unrealistic media. 

Economic hardship remains an immense plight. The cost-of-living crisis has plagued the UK for the last few years, with inflation reaching an all-time high at 11.1% in October 2022. The new necessity to flaunt material gains seems out-of-touch with a struggle that has affected the majority of the population. Flaunting wealth has become competitive, with someone always managing to prove they are better off than the next person, and promoting habits such as reckless spending also brushes over issues such as the repercussions of debt. Hence, infinite wealth and endless consumption are extremely damaging myths to an impressionable audience. 

This unhealthy connection between satisfaction and consumption is only becoming more prominent with the rising number of influencers. Influencers are paid to promote products they do not necessarily endorse, and in exchange they churn out engaging content advocating for the necessity of said product in your life. They push the idea that you need it immediately, piggybacking off of the ingrained need and addiction to instant gratification through belongings; it takes away from the longevity and reward of less stimulating tasks. Furthermore, it is a way to exploit their influential audience in exchange for a quick profit. Instant gratification fuels consumer culture, as well as reckless spending. The illusion of a lavish lifestyle is not only beneficial for an influencer to cultivate their image, but has also become a clever marketing tactic. When people are trying to save money in times of economic hardship, using someone with a platform to flaunt a product is extremely beneficial for company growth. It not only allows the company to take advantage of their audience, but they cultivate a better image for themselves. This makes the flaunting and flex trend increasingly deceptive; as many influencers will be paid to promote products, they often fabricate the quality, necessity and usefulness of the item. They sell an image, not just products. Thanks to social media, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate reality and falsity. Similarly, government transparency has been a prominent topic of discussion during the current recession. There is a demand for more communication and information on recession combat plans becoming available to the public but, as it often appears, the government doesn’t do a whole lot. 

Whilst hustling and flaunting can be entertaining behind the screen, it’s also evidently becoming an increasingly dangerous form of heavily consumed media. The falsity and excessive nature of these celebrities and influencers who love to flex is increasingly tone deaf, with more people in the UK being forced to make extremely difficult spending decisions in this time of economic uncertainty. The community of influencers whose image relies on constant flexing totally disregards any monetary struggles, thereby emphasising their lack of consideration towards the circumstances of those beyond of their ostentatious, out-of-touch worlds.



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