by Damon Carr
For New Pittsburgh Courier
An illusion is something that is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted. A deceptive appearance or impression. A false idea or belief. Magicians are masters at performing tricks of illusion. However, money is the greatest magician of all. It can disappear before your eyes without you seeing or knowing, leaving you scratching your head, wondering—where or when did my money go?
There’s another illusion I’m speaking about in this article. The illusion fabricated by people to get others to believe that they themselves are wildly successful, happy, and living their best life—free of worries. We see it paraded all over Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. So much so, that Facebook is often referred to as Fakebook. I’m reminded of “The Bow Wow Challenge.” This was a challenge created after early ‘90s successful rapper/actor Bow Wow, whose real name is Shad Moss, was outed for perpetrating a fraud. Bow Wow posted an image of a private jet with the caption, “Traveling to New York for a press run.” Moments later, a random person who shared the same flight on a regular passenger plane to New York, posted a picture of Bow Wow on the plane with the caption—“This guy Bow Wow is on my flight but on Instagram he posted a picture of a private jet stating he was traveling to New York.” BUSTED! Even celebrities get caught up in living an illusion.
The purpose of the Bow Wow challenge was to show how people exaggerate their lifestyle or flat out lie for the purpose of showing off on social media. Guess they do it for the likes??
My middle son is a college student. We decided to have him commute to and from school to save money on college. Room and Board is approximately half the cost of college. He was reluctant initially. I think he was more excited about the opportunity of leaving home and being independent than he was about going to college. I had to remind him of the fact that had he earned scholarships, he’d have more options. I told him that college is very expensive. Your mom and I will pay as you go to college in an effort to minimize your need for student loans. By doing this, you’ll have more financial independence upon graduation. That’s far greater than independence from your parents right now.
He didn’t get it. He was still upset. I had to sell him on the luxury of commuting from home. I told him that we’re not going to micromanage you. You will have more independence. As long as you do what you’re supposed to do in school and work a few days per week, you’re good to go. You’ll have full access to one of the cars. You get to have home-cooked meals every day. You don’t have to worry about laundry. You will not have a big need for money because we’ll still help you out as long as you’re in school.
He’s commuting to and from school and loving it. He says college is way better than high school because he has more freedom and only a couple of classes each day. His grades are good. No complaints from his mom or me on that. However, based on his language I noticed something. He’s living an illusion. Clearly, they haven’t taught him the proper use of pronouns in high school or college. This dude thinks “MY SUV” is his. When conversing about “MY truck,” he’s using possessive pronouns like I, me, my and mine. When we have to move cars around in the driveway to allow another car to get in or out the garage, he says I parked my car on the street. He’s riding around in a 2-year old SUV. No car payments. No car insurance payments. No maintenance or repair cost. He’s posting pictures on the gram in “MY truck” flossing like he’s the man. He’s riding around in “MY truck” with his friends chilling like he got it going on. He’s charging people to take them places in “MY truck” like it’s his—not giving me a dime from his profits. He’s a good young man. I will not completely deflate his bubble just yet. I do chin-check him from time to time. I figure since he’s a college student he needs to understand possessive pronouns and ownership. It’s not yours if you don’t own it.
Bow Wow and my son are not the only people creating this fairytale lifestyle on social media. People post things on social media like they don’t have followers on social media who are people who know them in real life.
I’m of the age now where my family, friends, colleagues, and peers have children and grandchildren whose careers are launching and taking off. As a parent, I’ve come to observe that I’m far more emotional about the failures and successes of my children than I am of my own successes and failures. I understand when parents post images and comments on social media about their children and grandchildren thriving. It’s hard to be successful at anything. When you or someone you know is thriving in life, it’s worthy of celebration and praise. What strikes me as odd is the lifestyle upgrade changes I observe people making after their children experience success. If this lifestyle upgrade is the result of you as a parent getting a raise in your cash-flow because you no longer have to support your dependent child, kudos to you.
If, however, your child is now thriving and is supporting you financially, heed this advice. You don’t want to be a burden on your child. Make sure your child has the wherewithal to support themselves and/or their family in addition to supporting you without breaking the bank. Continue to ensure that you’re creating income streams or long-term savings for yourself, because at any given moment, things can change.
Lastly, always remember, living your best life on someone else’s dime is an illusion. Illusions are not real.
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached at 412-216-1013 or visit his website @ www.damonmoneycoach.com)