There are very few humans in your life that you would ask either of the following questions:
- How much do you weigh?
- How much money is in your bank account?
These concrete, straightforward questions are socially taboo. But why? Sure, these questions are personal, but people ask way more personal questions. Are you going to have kids? Young couples get this all the time. Now that’s a personal question.
What is it about weight and money that cause such sensitivity?
People, especially men, attach a lot of importance to things like net worth. Same with women and their weight/dress size. These two numbers have a lot to do with social status and social perception. You’re not supposed to directly ask someone how much money they have, or how much they weigh, because people like to strategically manage this information.
Suppose you buy an expensive watch–one that would normally be well out of your price range–for half price. When you wear this watch, you are quietly implying you have more money than you do. This strategy would quickly spoil if you were required to wear an accurate bank statement pinned to your shirt–or if people were allowed to directly ask you how much money you have.
Most people are embarrassed by how much/how little money they have in savings. Same goes for their body weight. Humans like to think of themselves as honest, while preserving enough social wiggle room to manipulate things in their favor. We try to make sure people only see the Photo-shopped version of our lives. How exhausting. And how dissatisfying. You see two people “interacting,” it’s often like you’re watching two competing infomercials pointed at one another. This often holds true to some degree with even our closest family, friends and loved ones.
Consider this: What if you had “calling cards” printed that detailed your social stats?
Bank account info, height and weight. Physical and psychological ailments. Arrest record. Bad habits. Dumbest thing you did prior to age of 18. The kinds of things you try to keep tucked away in a drawer somewhere for as long as possible, so that when other people discover your imperfections, you can put a positive spin on them. If you could choose whether everyone–including you–was required to carry and present such a calling card to all new acquaintances, what would you choose?
About the Author: James Robbins is a licensed professional counselor, published author and co-owner of Dallas Whole Life Counseling. He has over 15 years of experience helping people in various life stages that come from a wide variety of cultural, economic and family backgrounds. Learn more about his background by clicking here.