Modern Times: The Issue of “Showing off”

Approaching Rovinj by boat: Nice. Doing so with 4 great old friends on board: Fantastic!

Approaching Rovinj by boat: Nice. Doing so with 4 great old friends on board: Fantastic!

Woodpecker just came back from a great week of sailing the Croatian Coast with good old friends from School. Although our boat was a bit on the slow side (gosh, accidentally I booked a “comfort” version and not a “sportive” one. Its stern was as wide as the ass of a clerk one day before his retirement!), the trip was amazingly great.

The landscape and beautiful small coast towns of Istria (NW Croatia) are amazing, again Europe surprised me with another great strip of land that I did not dare to expect to be so beautiful.

But above all it is great to be on a boat with people who you know since 20+ years.

A repeating topic in the many good conversations on board was the issue of showing-off in the modern social world.

Very quickly we all agreed that we see this widespread tendency to show-off as a major energy drain today.

So what do I mean by that?

Evening at the anchor bay - time for beers!

Evening at the anchor bay – time for beers!

I mean that I (and seemingly a lot of others) have the impression that showing-off became more and more important in the western society over the recent years.

Probably driven by social media, the internet and massive information overflow, people seem to compare themselves more and more to others, no matter what they do. This seems to be more critical in business environments, large cities and generally among materialistic people. But it is not limited to those groups.

In fact I think that showing-off rather is a symptom of worshiping consumption, material accumulation and money, which in turn take the place of religion, or of political and social ideologies, who all left the scene in the 1990s. Leaving a great void of meaningless that is now filled with an endless struggle to have more and to show it to others.

The big problem is that most people do not realize how much energy and effort they spent to show-off. In fact, even you and me as downshifters are not immune to this effect, as we still are social beings, embedded in our time and in our society.

The more important it is to realize any showing-off within your own actions.
Because as a downshifter, you obviously want to avoid spending money on stupid things like invoking envy in others, or trying to underscore your social status by superfluous purchases.
On your way to happiness the same holds true: Getting lukewarm applause or envy from others is a short-living drug. They are not what will carry you through the great storms in life.

So how do you distinguish between showing-off and just having a good time or doing something that you really enjoy?

A first self-test for show-off is:

Do something or buy something, and do the following:

  • completely abstain from taking photos
  • abstain from posting anything about your deed or purchase on Facebook (=pose book), whatsapp and other social media
  • best, abstain from bringing (or turning on) your cell-phone at all during the trip/event.
  • do not tell anyone about the event/purchase unless asked
  • if telling others then do so in the most modest way possible, explicitly in a way that does not invoke envy, but on the contrary makes the other person say: “Well, nice, but nothing special“.
  • Or put in one word: Be humble.

If you still enjoy the thing, if you do not have the feeling that “something is missing” until you post your deed or your purchase  on Facebook, then likely the motivation to do this or to buy this was not clouded by showing off.

If you repeat train this, it will become natural to you to be humble.

Europe at its best once more: Sailing in front of a medieval setting.

Europe at its best once more: Sailing in front of a medieval setting.

The “disadvantage” is, that short-term you will get much less applause and regard on your way. But remember: The applause you are foregoing is lukewarm and tepidly anyway. Better face it now: You cannot buy anything with that kind of false esteem on the long run. Sooner or later it will dwindle anyway, so why bother with it in the first place?

The huge advantage is: Over the long run, the superficial people will automatically sort themselves out from your circle of friends. They will walk away and look for more glamorous acquaintances somewhere else. On the other side, the really interesting people will stay and more of them will be attracted to you. This are the people who are not easily blinded by a dazzling surface, but who want to dig deeper and who want to connect on a personal and profound level. This are the people who lifelong friends are made of. Once you are connected, this people will stay, no matter what happens, no matter what car you drive, no matter how ill you get, or how long you lose contact. This people will be your bullet-proof social treasure and not the interchangeable guys that are attracted by money and show-off. Do not forget this!




4 comments on “Modern Times: The Issue of “Showing off”

  1. Stockbeard says:

    I tend to agree. My problems these days are that some of my very good friends are still in this “show off” attitude, and as a result always want to do expensive and “showy” stuff together. “Let’s rent a limousine for this event”, “let’s get the most expensive bottle of champagne, we deserve it!”, and so on.

    To me it seems they forget that it matters less what you do, it’s who you’re doing it with that makes something enjoyable

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      If you do not want to join this style, I’d say your best hope is to put this connections “on hold” (without burning any bridges!) and wait if these friends will overcome their desire to show off.

      People develop and the the fine ones eventually get the insight themselves that showing off is leading nowhere, or at least they learn to accept that others (you!) are not keen on spending money for it, but still are worth meeting.

      To my experience this may take a while though (in some cases many years), so maybe it’s worth looking for additional friends in the meanwhile.


  2. Pietje says:

    Looks like you didn’t completely abstain from making photo’s on your sailing trip 🙂 And didn’t abstain from posting about your trip on social media either 🙂

    • mrwoodpecker says:

      Haha, you are right. I waited for this comment 🙂

      I also had prepared a witty response, unfortunatelly I don’t recall it by now since the post is a few weeks old already…

      But taken fun aside for a moment:

      Yes, even though my blog readers and RL friends are for the most part separate people as far as I know, it is in fact true that I ask myself currently if writing a blog is also a sort of “craving for attention”.

      Probably the answer is yes, there always is an element of craving for attention for virtually ANY publishing writer in the world.

      However, I am not sure what the conclusion of this is.

      For the time being I only try to shut out actions where “show-off” under brutal honesty turns out to be the *primary* motivation.

      In the blog, I tend to say there are at least two additional drivers:

      (a) writing sorts my mind and makes my thinking better, especially if I know that somebody will read it.

      And (b) I want to give something to people / to whomever is interested. Some thoughts and ideas (thats is the text) but also some reminder how great a place to live our planet is and what you can do with your time (thats the pictures and travel reports).

      So at the moment for the blog I’d say it is 2:1 for non-show-off motivation. Maybe not enough for being declared saint, but hopefully ok for an apprentice in humbleness. 🙂

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