Hey look kids, I finally did a gif, that thing that was first cool in 2012.
Probably my favorite thing in the world (after buffets, that is) is when people go on Twitter and passive-aggressively tweet at the Delta Corporation about their flight. Nothing amuses me more. Do these people actually think such a thing is going to work?
I like to imagine the social media guy for the airline taking each tweet seriously. “Uh, guys? Hey. Listen, user @BlackHawksFan89 has been waiting 40 minutes for his luggage! If we don’t get his stuff to him in the next seven minutes, he’s going to start doing that thing when he puts a period before his tweet, thereby letting his 48 followers know that we have slightly inconvenienced him. Please hurry!”
In reality, the social media person couldn’t give two of the world’s most remote shits about your problem. She just wants to wrap it up for the day so she can pick up some weed on the way home, because getting high lets her forget about the fact she’s a social media intern for an airline for a couple of hours.
Way to stick it to The Man, people who @ airlines when delayed at the airport.
— Nelson! (@financialuproar) January 18, 2015
As much as I like to make fun of people’s intelligence, even the most dimwitted of the people reading this are smart enough to really know that Westjet doesn’t really care that its customers tweet when they’re pissed off. But they want to make sure they appear to care, which is why they have several social media people. God, what a terrible job.
So why do people tweet at airlines? Because they’re pissed off, and they want to create the illusion that they’re doing something about it. Or maybe it’s all part of a massive conspiracy to amuse me. THAT’S GOOD HUSTLE, EVERYONE.
Illusion of control and your money
Let’s relate this to your finances.
For years, I’ve stressed that making more money is probably the most important thing you can do to really get ahead. Yeah, you can cut expenses or increase your investment returns — which both help, obviously — but getting more Robert Bordens is the most important thing, especially when you’re first starting out.
Say you make $40,000 per year, spend $30,000, and then save $10,000. Getting a 10% raise will increase your savings 40%, assuming everything else stays the same. Cutting your spending by 10% will increase your savings by 30%.
The big reason why so many personal finance blogs focus on spending less is because it’s something you can directly control. You can make the choice to not add meat to your sauce, saving yourself a dollar and a half in the process. You can’t make the choice to get paid more, at least not in any job that isn’t selling Amway products.
(Aside, does Amway even exist anymore? Like, are there people that have never heard of it?)
There’s also the very immediate reward from frugality. You can measure the amount of money saved by buying one-ply toilet paper. If you spend an hour unpaid to make your department run smoother at work, there’s no immediate payback. Hell, half the time your boss won’t even notice.
It’s also really hard to control your investment returns. Take it from a guy who spends a lot of time looking for better returns — they’re not very easy to find. I have a better chance of finding the ever-elusive G-spot than I do finding a business that offers steady 15% returns.
So I understand why folks focus on spending less. After all, it’s the easiest thing to control. Which is why it probably has the least upside.
Time for a leap of faith
If you legitimately work harder than your peers, you can’t help but to get ahead.
It doesn’t matter if you work at 7-11 or at the most prestigious corporations in the world. The only difference will be the level of competition.
The reward won’t be instantaneous, which means most people won’t even bother trying for it. They’ll work hard enough to not get fired, and then complain when they don’t get the promotion. It’s hard to move up when you make it a crapshoot.
It’s difficult to put your faith into something that is likely to happen in the future. Hey, things could go wrong. Your employer might not like the look of your face. Or they might be sleeping with your biggest internal competitor.
But over time, you will succeed. It takes patience, hard work, and knowing that there will eventually be a reward. It also means you have to change your mindset a little. Focus on things like working harder and smarter, and take confidence in the fact they’ll eventually lead to good things. The only thing you really can’t control is the timing.
If you insist on controlling all your own opportunities, you’re going to miss out on stuff. It’s that simple. Maybe it’s time to shrug, realize there’s much that you can’t control, and enjoy your time drinking overpriced airport coffee. Hey, there’s plenty of chairs, and no shortage of places to buy a book.