The famous moral story about Fazl bin Rabi’ building a mosque and then placing his plaque for recognition has come to life in so many different forms today. Show off and brandishing wealth vs wealth has now become a mainstay of our community centres. And despite the cosmetic demeanour of well-wising people around, there is little regard or cordiality left in us for one another. In short, everyone wants to be recognised as a prince or a king.
Hanan Parvez, founder of Psychmechanics, in his analytical article “The Psychology of people who show off”, cites several reasons for this kind of behaviour, something that we need to really understand if we are so serious about mental well-being in this, sort of, queer day and age. “There are many reasons why a person may become showy. Though the need to show off is internal, it has a lot to do with the environment. Showing off largely depends on the environment a showy person is in. It also depends on the type of people whom he’s trying to show off to.”, he writes.
He then supplants the various reasons such as
(1) Insecurity, as a prime motivator for showing off “It’s the most common reason behind showiness. A person shows off only when they need to. Only when they think that others don’t consider them important will they try to prove that they’re important.”,
(2) Showing off during hard times “
While everyone may show off every once in a while (normal human behaviour, you should watch out for people who show off constantly. This may be indicative of a deeper issue. For example, say you’re having a hard time running your business. It isn’t doing well. As anyone who has started a business knows, people tend to get emotionally attached to their businesses. You want to believe that your business is going great even if it’s not. At this point, you may start to frequently brag about your business. The reason is: what you expect from your business clashes with reality and causes dissonance in you. To resolve this cognitive dissonance, you want to believe that the business is, indeed, going great. So you resort to bragging about it, to prove to others, and to yourself, that your business is going well. This self-deception doesn’t work for long because, eventually, the facts catch up with you. If you don’t understand what caused this sudden spike in your showiness, you may not be able to deal with your situation sooner.
(3) Childhood experiences: “Our childhood experiences shape many of our adult behaviours. We try to replicate our favourable childhood experiences when we’re adults. If a child was showered with a lot of attention from his parents and those around him, then he may try to maintain that attention level as an adult by becoming showy. This usually happens with the youngest or the only child.”
(4) Acceptance “A showy person usually doesn’t show off in front of everyone but only in front of those whom they’re trying to impress. If a person likes someone, then they’re likely to show off in front of them to gain their love and acceptance. “
So what happens when a man gets a new carriage (read car)? When women go for khushalis? You guessed it right – show off. The need is so compulsive that it has so many different justifications as well. In fact, nowadays, marketers have a field day courting people with this innate and uncontrolled anxiety to show off by shortchanging them on a deal and then replacing it with something grander, yet insignificant. Like a state-of-the-art hospital with mediocre health facilities, like a heavily invested hotel, with substandard services, like a world-renowned airline, with the least care for their passengers, like politicians who promise one thing and deliver another and still get re-elected, like a school with a superior facility and design but with minimal learning, the list is endless, but they all play int the mind’s desire for recognition through show off. Oh I flew this airline and in this class, my child goes to this school, I only get treated at this hospital, my doctor is the expert in the region.
The consequence of this fanfare, of this show of wealth (because obviously, who do you think can purchase these hollow luxuries?), within our communities, is quietly driving families and individuals to oblivion. Because in order to be part of this group, you also need to join the club, but for some, it just does not come naturally, so they are marginalised.
Is this why masaajid were created? Imambadas were built? Perhaps they were? Otherwise, why would preachers suggest, that pilgrims contend that they have received an invitation from a Holy Imam and that only those who are favoured and fortunate are able to go to Kerbala, for example? Does this suggest that Allah (SWT) favour s those with wealth? And that those with wealth are intelligent and smart. Or does it simply reinforce the ideology that religion is easy for the rich… But rather than pointing fingers at all and sundry, let us look inwards and ask this key question – which of these reasons are driving us so insanely to become show-offs, as that is certainly not the path to salvation? And so, the next time you publish the picture of a cake on mother’s day, using the Lady of Light as an excuse, to show off your children’s love for you, remember that there are many more families in the world whose unconditional love for each other is not dependant on a rich cake, there are those who can ill afford an expense of that nature, and then there are those who have lost their children or their mothers, and cannot do what you can, so be a little more sensitive to the time you live in, and follow the prescribed path of moderation.
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