Is It Insensitive For Celebrities to Flex Wealth on Social Media?
The neutral word "flex"—meaning to change something to get better result or physically to bend muscles—has acquired a millennial slang on social media to mean "to show off." Flexing is defined as a way of sensationalizing the online presence of people gunning for more attention and followers on social media.
Whether that is in fact the intention of local celebrities who post about their pricey possessions, they are now being called to task by users who find unacceptable their "tone-deaf posts" and "insensitive photos" in the time of a pandemic. The following are samples of reactions to celebrity flexing on social media.
On Thursday, July 9, 2020, Jinkee Pacquiao was called out by actress Agot Isidro for posting on Instagram a photo of her luxe bikes. Pacquiao's followers questioned Isidro for singling out the wife of the billionaire boxer/senator, Manny Pacquiao, when there are other celebrities brandishing their wealth on social media.
They mentioned Sharon Cuneta and GMA-7 actress Heart Evangelista, whose husbands are both politicians. Evangelista, particularly, has been taking a lot of flak over the past four months because of her fancy OOTDs and "new normal" posts on Instagram.
Last June 3, a user who tagged Evangelista as "out of touch privileged" and her posts as "distasteful" urged the actress "to do something relevant and different for people."
While Cuneta had been dragged into the fray for bringing out her Rolex watch on Instagram.
Isidro's post criticizing Pacquiao gained mixed reactions on social media. Some echoed the actress's sentiments.
Another Twitter tells off Pacquiao: "Others are not as fortunate as you but why rub it in. It's pointless. You are just showing your insecurities by flaunting."
Facebook user JeanHarry Condecido comments that politicians and their families should refrain from flaunting their wealth in accordance with the Republic Act No. 6713, which is an "act establishing a code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials and employees."
His post reads: "'People are not showing off. They are simply posting. Unless, you are viewing it from a jealous point of view.' Wrong! This doesn't apply if you're in the government. Educate yourself."
Section 4, Paragraph H of R.A. 6713 states: "Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form."
Another Twitter user with the handle name @helterskelltr cites Article 25 of the Republic Act No. 386, also known as the Civil Code of the Philippines, which states: "Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution."
On the other hand, there are tweets showing consideration for Pacquiao, Evangelista, and Cuneta.
Twitter user @tinkerbeen writes that Instagram may not be a social networking site for those who "hate people who flaunt things."
Her tweet reads: "If you have it, flaunt it. If you don't have it, flaunt anything. Instagram is for people who have things to flaunt. People who follow Instagram are interested in things that are worth flaunting. If you hate people who flaunt things, don't open Instagram."
Twitter user @_kevinsimon_ reminds people that while these women are married to politicians, these women were already known for their wealth.
Pacquiao is the wife of eight-division world boxing champ Pacquiao, who was ranked by Forbes.com as the 92nd highest-paid athlete in 2019. Manny's net worth after 24 years as a professional boxer is said to be USD190 million or PH9.2 billion, according to bleacherreport.com.
Evangelista belongs to a wealthy family, and was an A-list celebrity even before she married Sorsogon Governor Francis "Chiz" Escudero.
Cuneta openly says she reached "billionaire" status even before she met and married Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.
Facebook user Ronaldo Sioco offers a saner view of celebrity flexing. He explains that these posts actually differ from each other, depending on the person looking at it.
His post reads (published as is): "Weighing in on this 'insensitive post' of Jinkee, I think people should remember that everything is relative. To the average person, a Hermes bike is a flex. To her, it's just something beautiful that she wants to share. Billionaire eh. To others, your job is a flex. To you, it's just a job. To others, your home entertainment setup is a flex. To you, you're just amazed about how cool it looks. To others, your steaks may be considered as a flex. To you, it's just a delicious meal you want to share to the world. To others, having a happy family is a flex. To you, it's a memory to be remembered."
"So where do you draw the line when the line is relative? The answer is you can't. I've seen accounts condemning those posting their 'privileges' during a pandemic but at the same time, can't shut up about a coffee machine they're buying. Ano yun parang ewan di ba. If you follow a billionaire's social media account, be prepared for expensive things," he adds.
Ronaldo also points out that the Pacquiaos have done their share to help Filipinos amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For their part, Evangelista and Cuneta have also been extending their help to those in need since Covid-19 started. Cuneta has donated P3 million to Angel Locsin's #UniTENTweStandPH fundraising campaign and has raised P2 million for COVID-19 relief efforts. Evangelista has been actively helping through her Twitter account, donating food, PPEs, and hundreds of tablets to students to equip them for online learning in the coming school year.
In this discussion about flexing on social media, both sides offer valid points. And like it or not, the internet has become a front-seat for viewing the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
This story originally appeared on Pep.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.