On a recent trip to I learned a new term, “flexing”. Flexing means to outwardly brag about one’s clothing, body, lifestyle, car, house, really anything that people attach ego to. And you know that we attach ego to almost everything. In economics you’d call it conspicuous consumption, spending money on luxury goods and services to show status or economic power. Conspicuous Consumption is hardly a new idea. It was first mentioned in 1899 by Thorstein Veblen in his book The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study in the Evolution of Institutions.
Flexing is just a new term for Evolutionary Biology’s signalling theory.
Since the dawn of civilization we’ve had to “signal” the opposite sex as means of reproduction. Animals “flex” as well, think of a Peacocks tail, does it really need to be that big and colourful?
Over time evolution has changed the mechanisms of how we signal, and technology has only made it worse. We want to be portrayed online as someone suitable to mate with. A suitable mate means rich, attractive, smart, popular, all those things we were self conscious about in high school.