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Why are TikTokers obsessed with other people's money?

On the Chinese social network more and more content fuels the dream of becoming rich

Why are TikTokers obsessed with other people's money? On the Chinese social network more and more content fuels the dream of becoming rich

On TikTok, the 'gurus' spread motivational content to become rich and famous with minimal effort. The Chinese social network's algorithm - with its unprecedented ability to make certain content go viral in no time - has done the rest, fuelling many young people's obsession with the rhetoric of 'making money' and a thriving career. The subtext of this content is that success depends solely on individual merit and the attitude with which one approaches life, and is all in all easy to achieve. For this reason, as reported in a Vox article, the market for online get-rich-quick courses has grown enormously in the last three years. The impact of this phenomenon can be seen in the success of sites that produce motivational content or ask passers-by how much they earn and what they invest in, "what do you do in life to afford this car?", how much their outfit costs and so on. Then there are also many influencers who are admittedly becoming more popular, offering their followers paid courses or consultations in which they promise to reveal the secrets of how to become rich and famous, taking advantage of the naivety of many and the great demand. Distributed and fed this content not only by industry influencers, but also by sites that attract hundreds of thousands of followers by posting decontextualised clips in which various celebrities talk about how they 'made it'. Often, as the essay Sei vecchio: i mondi deigitali della Generazione Z puts it, this motivational content is «a kind of cynical paradox, namely people who may not yet have achieved that success and are striving to achieve it by rehashing old content from others».

@dan__top suono originale - Dan

This content is popular with young people for a lot of reasons. The most important one is that Gen Z has long been exposed to strong cultural stimuli, according to which one can be successful at any time, only thanks to the TikTok algorithm, which, more than others, potentially allows anyone to stand out and suddenly gain a lot of attention. According to this assumption, it would not be worth building a career step by step when many young people have become famous in a very short time thanks to the special way TikTok works. Another reason is that in social networks the comparison with others is very strong, especially when it comes to money. "Why is this format so successful?" asked MilanoToday Eddy Beef, the Tiktoker with over 400,000 followers who is known for videos in which he asks owners of luxury cars how they afford them. "A bit because it's a different content: it's not the classic Tiktok dance," he said. «Partly because we have all wondered at one time or another, 'How can that guy afford that Ferrari». Curiosity is also the reason for Caleb Simpson's large following on TikTok. Simpson has become famous for asking New Yorkers how much they pay in rent and asking them if he can take a tour of their home. «Seeing the inside of someone's flat is one of the most intimate things you can do» Simpson told the Guardian. «But I mainly ask them how much they are paying for the flat - people are curious about that more than anything else.»

@calebwsimpson @haleyybaylee Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy

A survey conducted in 2021 found that nearly 60% of Americans do not regularly talk about money with their friends and acquaintances. «This percentage decreases significantly among those under 34, while it increases among older generations. There are very few financial problems that get better when you neglect them» Korrena Bailie, finance editor at Forbes, told The New York Times. «When you start to see the value of being open and transparent about money, talking about it becomes a must.» This is especially true for Generation Z, which has no problem discussing money with other users on social media and 'reaching into their pockets'. «At the heart of Generation Z's attitude to work is a desire as old as capitalism itself: to be financially independent» writes the Guardian, which reports on the statement of a very young entrepreneur: «I think our daily experiences with social media and fake news have made us distrust the world and believe we will not stand a chance. So it's either fight or flee: I know I have to fight and I know I have to 'make money'.»