I deleted all my Tweets a month ago. Facebook got the chop this week. I'm still "on" both, silently, to stalk my very favourite people, but I'm done with the false idolatry.
I am not taking any fancy stand here, but all that internet pretending was making me weary and I was rather tired of the dance, pretty tired of the lost time and VERY tired of myself. Social media promised us a community rose garden but oh my God what a weedy patch of gravel we have made of it. I relinquish! If all my "friends" vanish into the shady ether well so be it. I shall simply go cycling. My mother says I am turning into my father. I suspect she is right, she always is.
There is a deeper issue, though, than little old me getting good and pissed off with the world. It is that our social media habits tend to mirror everything else - how we respond to the environment, how we treat our money, how we react to the constant litany of other people's expectations. And those last two can really get life's salt and grind it into our everyday wounds. It takes a hugely brave soul these days to resist keeping up with John and Jenny MustHave. In fact until Tuesday I thought my father was the only one in the universe. Now there are two of us. Wow, genetics huh?
Not only are we supposed to eternally measure up to this mystery superiority, we have had to plaster it all over the place since 2004 for all those living within a twenty thousand kilometre radius to devour. We must do it in just the right way, too - a process that suggests it was completely effortless (OMG YOU GUYS - SO EASY!) to buy this car, that house, the endless plastic frippery.
If you look carefully, you will admit to yourself that this whole thing is a giant act. For some, the acting, and I know this because they sit in my office in tears asking me what they are supposed to do about it, has real, damaging financial consequences. Social media has amplified the small smokescreens we all like to create to put on a good show for each other (even cavemen dressed up for dinner sometimes) and turned it into something darker.
There are many, many boys and girls out there who are hate-slaving in the corporate junkyards purely to keep heads bobbing above the mortgage, the car finance, the school fees, the designer clothes, the bar bills, the holidays. Golden-handcuffed to a life of judgement by strangers, they are happy as pie on Tumblr but crying behind closed doors. Borrowing to buy depreciating assets has never been more in vogue, despite being the best path to destitution, but, hey, it's on SnapChat so it's, like, TOTALLY VALID YOU GUYS! Spending less than you earn has become an idea for losers and weirdo misfits, like me, who are attempting to keep one eyeball based in reality.
We have become a nation of financial attention-addicts. We chuck money around hoping to get noticed, and when we do not, we stick it on the computer screens of others so that they cannot possibly miss our latest delve into the material. We lose hours a day enacting this private pretence in public and worst of all we do it with cash we haven't earned yet. Heads up humans - you have never been richer, and going this route, poorer.
Caroline Ritchie is a former AFA, sharebroker & portfolio manager. She runs Investment Stuff, a sharemarket based investment coaching service. Visit her at www.investmentstuff.co.nz This column is not personalised financial advice.